When UND men’s hockey players reach the basement level of Ralph Engelstad Arena, they are greeted by a pair of sliding doors with the North Dakota logo on it.
When they open, they see a green-lit hallway with nearly every style jersey the program has ever worn lining both sides.
The players then cross a hallway and open the double doors to their new dressing room. It’s an oval shape with LED lighting and a scrolling scoreboard that wraps around the room. Each stall is spacious and has leather seating.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” senior Mark MacMillan said.
“You weren’t complaining before, but this is so much better,” junior Bryn Chyzyk said. “You didn’t think it could get better, but it did.”
UND opened the door to its renovated team area, which includes a new locker room, coaches offices, meeting room, lounge, kitchen and dining area, film room and equipment room.
The renovation is estimated at roughly $3 million, funded by private money from the Engelstad Foundation.
With the current arms race for top facilities going on in college hockey, Ralph Engelstad Arena was determined not to fall behind any others. The renovation will keep the $104 million, 13-year old facility at the top.
“We’re a pretty lucky group of guys to be able to come here every day and experience this facility,” MacMillan said. “It was already a nice place before, a special place before. It’s even more special now. I feel very fortunate to be able to experience it.”
The lounge is a big hit among the players. It features a large kitchen and dining area, where the team will eat its game day breakfasts and pregame meals. Players frequently grab snacks there, too, and watch NHL Network on the big screen TV.
The middle of the lounge has the ping pong table, a popular leftover from the old lounge. It also has a large flat screen TV with two video game systems hooked up.
The left side of the lounge has a U-shaped bar, where players can watch TV. The inside of the bar has a couch.
In the corner of the room, there’s a sleeping area for players to catch naps.
“It’s excellent,” UND coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s a great home for our players. We’ve already seen the amount of time our players are spending here has increased. When they are at the rink, they are with their teammates, working on academics, catching a quick nap or jumping on the ice to get some work done. . . it has just been tremendous. It’s a great home away from home. It’s just a real functional area.
“Some of the history and tradition we’ve continued to build into the facility are all really important things for our players.”
Other highlights of the renovation include:
- A classroom with stadium seating and an enormous television with two whiteboards on each side. Players will watch film and have special teams meetings in that room.
- A meeting room that has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the hallway. The windows can be frosted so nobody can see in. The wall is decorated with the names of UND’s greatest and most influential players.
- A display case for UND’s seven national championship trophies just outside of the locker room.
- A new equipment room that’s adjacent to the locker room. The old one was triple the distance away from the locker room.
- A new media room where interviews will be conducted.
The walls are still being decorated in the facility, but historical photos will be prominent.
“I waited to see it - I didn’t want to see it during the process,” Chyzyk said. “I walked in and was like ‘Wow, we are so lucky.’ It puts a lot of places to shame.”