On 18-22 April 2012, Omsk will play host to the 6th international hockey tournament for Continental Hockey League (KHL) children’s teams, the Gazprom Neft Cup. This year’s tournament will see the participation of 400 athletes representing 16 teams. Thanks to a strategic partnership between Gazprom Neft and the KHL , the Gazprom Neft Cup is currently Russia’s largest children’s hockey tournament.
The Gazprom Neft Cup will be contested by teams representing the following clubs: Avangard (Omsk Oblast); Avtomobilist (Ekaterinburg); Ak Bars (Kazan); Atlant (Moscow Oblast); Gazovik (Tyumen); Dinamo (Riga, Latvia); Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl); Metallurg (Magnitogorsk); Neftekhimik (Nizhnekamsk); Salavat Yulaev (Ufa); Sibir (Novosibirsk); SKA (St Petersburg); Traktor (Chelyabinsk); CSKA (Moscow); Yugra (Khanty-Mansiysk); Yamal (YaNAO).
The action will be spread across two ice rinks, at the Avangard Hockey Centre and the Arena Omsk Ice Sports Palace, the latter also being set to host the opening ceremony on 18 April. Spectators and participants will see a unique multimedia ice show, as well as a match between the winners of the last two tournaments, namely Avangard Omsk (2010) and Traktor Chelyabinsk (2011).
KHL President Alexander Medvedev stated: “This tournament has come a long way since it was first founded. Its status and level of organisation are constantly growing. I am sure that the Gazprom Neft Cup will further and further attract new participants, and that the competition and festivities will continue to bring great joy to spectators and participants alike.”
The Chairman of Gazprom Neft Management Board Alexander Dyukov stated, “With each passing year, the Gazprom Neft Cup becomes a larger-scale sporting event. However, its objective remains unchanged: to help young athletes to test themselves and to show their best qualities: a strong will, a desire to win, the ability to lead and, at the same time, to work as part of a team. For young viewers, watching the matches from the stands in one of the best hockey stadiums in the country, this is a good example to follow. We actively support youth sports, creating the necessary conditions and infrastructure in all regions where the company is operating. Our joint project with the KHL is another important milestone in the development of youth sports.”
The games of the Gazprom Neft Cup will be shown on the KHL television channel, and the final game of the tournament, which will take place at Arena Omsk on 22 April, will be broadcast live.
The first Gazprom Neft Cup tournament took place in 2007 and included six teams. The tournament has met its organisers’ most optimistic expectations, and with each passing year the number of participating teams has increased. The tournament itself has also improved significantly. The opening ceremony of the Gazprom Neft Cup now meets the level of the KHL’s best professional clubs, and in recent years has been watched by over 6000 spectators. It has already become traditional for hockey stars of the past and present to perform at the competition’s opening ceremony. Given the status of the Gazprom Neft Cup as an official KHL tournament, the trophy was created by the master craftsmen responsible for the Gagarin Cup. Traditionally, the cup itself carries the name of the winning team, and is kept by that team until the following tournament. The first match of the 2012 Gazprom Neft Cup will be contested between the competition’s two most recent winners, Avangard Omsk and Traktor Chelyabinsk. Interestingly, the final of the Gagarin Cup Eastern Conference this year will also involve Avangard and Traktor.