Ty Eigner's goal as head coach of the Brainerd boys' hockey team is to build the Warriors into one of the premier outstate programs.
One way to reach an elite level is to play respected programs like Duluth East, Cloquet, Forest Lake, Grand Rapids and Moorhead, which have become mainstays on the schedule. Eigner would like to play those schools, and other Class 2A schools, twice a year.
A first-rate locker room, typically not found in outstate ice arenas, can be another element in helping build a hockey tradition.
The Brainerd Warriors boys' hockey team thanks the following for their efforts in completion of its locker room at Gold Medal Arena:
Labor and electrical work -- Tim Holden, Mike Katzenberger, Jim Bodell, Ryan Bodell.
Painting and labor -- Gregg Settergren, Mike Edman, Ed Schoonover, Andy Watzke, Mike Christiansen.
Labor and plumbing -- Tim Vien.
Labor and concrete -- Keith Shepherd.
Labor and carpentry -- Joe Pohlkamp, Franklin Junior High technical education students, Shawn McLain.
Labor and precast -- Hans Impola, Bernie Roberts, Conrad Kragness, Rod Peltoma, Tom Jelacie.
Supplies donated or sold at cost -- Bob's Building Supply, Hirshfield's, Floor To Ceiling, Brainerd Ace Hardware.
Financial contributions -- Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association, 2000-2001 Brainerd Warriors JV and varsity teams.
Last month, an approximate 20x60-foot locker room was finished for the Warrior boys at the Gold Medal Arena. The room includes 10 showers, 40 wood cubicles with shelves, storage benches and carpeting.
The room was built with funds raised by the 2000-01 "Wing Ding" and from Brainerd Amateur Hockey Association funds. It was constructed by volunteer labor and materials that were either donated or purchased at a reduced rate.
"We're very fortunate," Eigner said. "I think us and Alexandria are the only schools in the conference that have their own (dressing) facility. There are plenty of games we go to where kids are hauling their stuff back and forth."
Warriors co-captain Jason Roberts believes a locker room can be an essential part of building a hockey tradition.
"We meet there, it's where we get dressed, where we form a lot of team bonds," the senior said. "I'm thankful we've got a beautiful locker room because there are not many teams that have the space in a locker room that our high school gets.
Ready for the road, Brainerd hockey player Kiel Browne headed out of the new locker room at the gold Medal Arena this week.
"Most teams are in a different locker room for every game, every practice. We can leave our equipment there. We don't have to bring it back and forth. We don't have to worry about getting home late after a game and taking our equipment home. We just hang it up there, and it dries out."
Students in Joe Pohlkamp's technical education class at Franklin Junior High also benefited from the project. It took two freshmen classes about a month to build the lockers.
"I told the kids this is like a community service-type thing," Pohlkamp said. "They came in every day and went to work. They loved it. It was a neat thing for the kids. They didn't complain at all. I told them, 'Some of you might do this as a career some day, building things,' and they went to work.
"For most of these kids it was the first time building something like this. It was a neat experience. Some of them have done things at home. It's not perfect but it was a good learning experience. It's something they will use for a long time."
Brainerd High hockey player Korey Horn packed his gear in the new locker room at the gold Medal Arena before a road game last week.
The Brainerd Area Civic Center/Gold Medal Arena complex now has 11 locker rooms. It hosted a 20-team Squirt tournament last weekend.
"The biggest crunch when you're talking about ice arenas is locker room space," Eigner said. "And, essentially, what we did was, by leaving our old locker room that opened up two rooms that are accessible to both rinks. And, with us being put in this room, you can have more teams in and out of here and not be trampling all over each other."
The Warrior girls' varsity team recently finished its third season in a new locker room in the Gold Medal Arena.
Last season the team dressed in a "dry" locker room that had no plumbing. Showers, sinks and toilets were installed this season. Wood cubicles were constructed by volunteer labor and private funds.
"It's always nice for the girls because it's where they spend a lot of time," Warrior girls' coach Jim Ernster said. "In essence, it becomes somewhat of a home. For them to have the privilege to go and use a nice place, it adds another dimension to make the rink a nice place to come. Anytime you do something to create a positive about your program, it enhances your program."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.