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Distinctive Millwork and Specialties re-energized Steelheads Locker Room

Thursday, December 28th
Distinctive Millwork and Specialties re-energized Steelheads Locker Room

Millions of future hopeful hockey stars had a big day on Monday, when they raced to the base of the Christmas tree and unwrapped skates, sticks, and gloves that by now have already made their way to the local ice rink. The Idaho Steelheads did not have to wait until December 25th to receive this year’s gift, instead finding it when they arrived at the locker room for the first time in October.

The players have enjoyed a brand new locker room through the first few months of the season, with newly redesigned dressing stalls, as well as new carpeting and new artwork. It was a demanding project that filled the final weeks of summer, preparing CenturyLink Arena’s player sanctuary for another long hockey season.

“Our locker room has been altered and refurbished several times through the years, but this summer it was time to make some more substantial and lasting improvements,” said Steelheads President Eric Trapp. “The dressing room serves as a home away from home for our players and it needs to feel that way. These new amenities that have been installed make our players proud to come to work every day and the results on the ice show that.”

The Steelheads are currently in second place in the Mountain Division, as well as in the Western Conference. There are more prominent reminders of the team’s past success in the dressing room this year. In addition to portraits of alumni again lining the walls, players that successfully made the climb to the National Hockey League, the walls feature portraits of the arena and of motivational adages in the form of decals designed by Brushwork Signs and Graphics.

The actual hardware included in the new dressing room wasn’t brought in on a whim. It involved extensive planning between the Steelheads and the carpentry team at Distinctive Millwork and Specialties.

“Eric Trapp and (Vice President) Mike Dipalma first approached me about this project in February 2015. They had a few ideas in their heads from locker rooms they had seen at other venues, as well as online,” said Don Willis, owner of Distinctive Millwork and Specialties in Meridian. “After a visit to the arena to obtain the actual field dimensions, my design team and I used those ideas and created a rough design based off of those dimensions, room configuration, and the minimum count of individual lockers needed.”

There were many factors for the crew to consider, deciding which materials to use while still keeping the project within the budget and also dealing with a tight time window for completion.

“When the decision was made to try to complete this project before the 2017 season, we only had four to five weeks to get it completed,” noted Willis. “We dedicated 100 percent of our facility and spent well over 600 man hours in order to meet that completion deadline.”

Willis and his crew had never done a project like this for a professional sports team, but felt it still fell within their expertise used on commercial cabinetry jobs for other clients. Still, the unique needs of hockey players and their equipment had to be met, which made the communication lines between the crew and the hockey staff even more important.

“One big plus side to this project was being able to lean on the knowledge of the staff on how the lockers would be used,” said Willis. “(Equipment Manager) Khris Bestel, for instance, was very helpful in the general layout of the equipment hooks, among other things. He gave us very clear direction on where certain pieces of equipment would be stored within each locker.”

"Don was exceptional to work with over the summer. We had gone back and forth over several blueprints and he made sure no stone was left unturned in creating the  finished product we were looking for," said Steelheads Head Coach Neil Graham.

The staff must have given pretty good instruction. Some players, especially those who have played for several years, accumulate multiple pairs of gloves, skates, and other equipment. According to Steelheads defenseman Charlie Dodero, the new layout has helped him stay more organized during the 2017-18 season compared to years past.

“The design of the news stalls solves the problem I have, which is having too much stuff,” said Dodero. “I never hear a word from the Beast (Bestel) about having half of my equipment and clothes lying on the floor anymore.”

“Our players are thrilled with the results,” added Trapp. “Our friends at Distinctive Millwork were incredibly professional and exceeded every expectation we had. We were proud to welcome our players to training camp, and we know this will be a big part of our recruiting for years to come.”

In any collaboration, one party has to trust that the other has its best interests at heart. The Steelheads knew for certain that they had that in Distinctive Millwork, who left a special signature on their work.

“I have been an avid Steelheads hockey fan for years so I was very excited when I was asked to be a part of this project. So excited, in fact, I wanted to do a little something extra for the team,” said Willis. “We commissioned Tom Hitchman with Audeom Enterprises to design some custom-routed Steelheads logos that were incorporated into the finished end panels, at no extra cost to the team.”

"The craftsmanship was remarkable and the craved logos were on the end stalls were an incredible finishing touch," added Graham.

This latest renovation of the Steelheads locker room was built to last, but there is no question who the Steelheads will call whenever it needs to be touched up once again.

“We are very appreciative that the Steelheads trusted our firm to build the new locker room and look forward to more successful projects in the future,” said Willis.

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