EAST LANSING — Darren Eliot was an All-American when he played for Cornell University in route to reaching the NHL, and his son, Mitch Eliot, will look to experience that same type of success at MSU starting next fall.
Eliot will be one of six talented incoming freshmen looking to revitalize MSU Hockey next season. As a two-way defenseman, Eliot played for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League (USHL) during the past two seasons, recording four points (0-4-4) in 58 games in 2014-15 and 13 points (5-8-13) in 55 games in 2015-16.
During his time with the Lumberjacks, Eliot — who is listed at 6-foot-0, 190-pounds — created a reputation as a physical two-way player. Eliot has a strong slap shot and the ability to make crisp passes, according to EliteProspects.com, but it’s his size and ability to control the puck that might be his greatest trait.
He recently spent time on Spartan Nation Radio with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr.
“I was fortunate enough to have really good coaches growing up, mites through midgets. So those puck protection skills that they taught me are things that translated directly to games instantly,” said Eliot, who is from Grosse Pointe, Mich. “I was taught then at a really young age so I’ve been able to hone that ability and exploit that part of my game pretty consistently. Using my body, getting the puck away from the defender is definitely something I’ve always worked on and been able to do with ease.”
On top of having the physical skills Eliot has the mental drive and passion for the game that elevates his play to a higher level. With his father playing at the highest level of hockey, Eliot was drawn to the game at a young age. However, he said he wasn’t forced to play hockey by his father but wanted to play and fell in love with the game.
“The fact that my dad played the game, yeah, he introduced it to me but there was never any pressure to stick with it,” Eliot said. “It was never like he was nagging me to play the game. I just really gravitated toward it. Took it and ran with it, and never looked back. … It’s truly what I love. It’s my passion and I’m thankful my dad gave me the opportunity to play the game.”
In addition to having a love for the game, Eliot said he has a competitive drive that continues to motivate him to beat out his opponent.
“I would say my compete level is probably the best part of my game,” Eliot said. “I really like to pride myself on one-on-one battles. Going into the corner I want to come out with the puck 10 times out of 10, doesn’t really matter how big the guy is, how strong he is. I like to put that on myself. Winning all the time those one-on-one battles. I think it’s a mindset that is consistent to my game. Not only in the corners, just all over. Look your opponent in the eye, knowing you’re going to stop him no matter what.”
This competitive drive will help him prepare for the transition to the collegiate level at MSU. Eliot said he wants to continue to work on his ability to handle and play with the puck, from shooting to passing to stickhandling.
He expects that part of his game to easily improve through the guidance of head coach Tom Anastos and the rest of the MSU Hockey coaching staff. He said a number of different things brought him to MSU, including a great experience when he visited campus a few years ago, but most importantly he felt comfortable with MSU’s coaching staff.
“Those three guys really seemed like they wanted me to be a part of it,” Eliot said. “It was very enticing for me and I’m really happy and mostly fortunate that I got the opportunity to do it. I’m looking forward to playing there next year.”