Taking a break from hockey Prince George's Mitch Elliot was back on the field on the weekend with the Prince George Track and Field Club.
Elliot used to compete for the P.G. Club at competition like Saturday's Sub Zero Meet at Masich Place Stadium until three years ago when he fully committed to hockey with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League. But, Elliot said he likes to stay involved with the club during the summer and continues to coach the youngsters, something he started doing about seven years ago.
"I was one of those little kids back in the day so it's a real opportunity for me to give back to the community that I grew up in," said Elliot, overseeing the javelin competition. "I really love coming out and hanging out in the sun and helping all these little kids out."
Elliot received his first taste of WHL playoff hockey this season and was a part of the historic first-round series between the T-birds and Kelowna Rockets that saw Seattle take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series only to drop the next four games to the second-seeded team in the western conference.
"It was a really cool experience that I had to wait four years for it to happen," said Elliot. "It was a heartbreaking loss but it was a good experience nonetheless."
Five of the seven games between the T-birds and Rockets went to overtime, including the Game 7 clincher where Seattle forced the extra time in the dying seconds.
"When we scored with seven seconds left it was probably one of the happiest moments of my life," said the former Cariboo Cougars player. "It went into overtime and we had some good chances and so did they. They happened to get a bounce and they got the goal.
"Nobody even thought we were going to win a game [against the Rockets] and it was really good for us to show people what Seattle is all about and build a winning culture," he added.
The six-foot-six, 223-pound left winger has played in 256 regular season games with Seattle, collecting 10 goals, 26 points and 396 penalty minutes. Elliot turns 20 a month before heading back to his final WHL training camp with the T-birds in August. With four overage players competing for only three jobs Elliot knows he'll need to be ready from the start of camp.
"One of us isn't going to make it so I just have to come in in the best shape possible and try and play my best hockey," said Elliot. "I've spent four years there so it's almost like a second home to me now."
Elliot's 20-year-old competition in Seattle includes forwards Seth Swenson and Connor Sanvido and defenceman, former Cougars captain, Jesse Forsberg.
There's still a chance Elliot may not return to Seattle at all if the third time proves to be the charm with his eligibility for the NHL Entry Draft which takes place after the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"It was tough the first year I thought I might get picked," said Elliot about the 2011 draft. "I sat and watched the whole draft on my couch and didn't see my name called but I ended up getting an invite to an NHL camp."
Elliot attended the Washington Capitals camp in 2011 and last year received an invitation to the Philadelphia Flyers camp.
"I can't complain," said Elliot. "I got two shots to go up and train with those guys. They said that I did well and they were going to watch me in junior and see how I looked. We'll see if maybe they call me again. You never know."
If he doesn't receive another shot at professional hockey, Elliot said he's content to use his five (after next season) years of scholarship money to attend a post-secondary school and continue his hockey career in the CIS. Besides he'll always have his experience with the Capitals.
"It was pretty cool to be on the ice with Alex Ovechkin, pretty much a legend in the National Hockey League," said Elliot. "He came down the hallway once and said hi to me. I looked the other way because I thought he was talking to somebody else. That was pretty cool. It was just cool to see those guys on the ice. He turned out to be a really nice guy."