Elliott Helping Rebuild Gulf Coast

By Dwayne Bremer
The Sea Coast Echo

BILOXI, Miss. – Whether driving the puck into the net or driving a nail into a new home, Mississippi Sea Wolves forward Brandon Elliott is a force to be reckoned with.

Today, Elliott is living a dream in two different ways.

He is still associated with the game he dearly loves, but through his construction company, he is also changing people’s lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast – one nail at a time.

Growing up in Toronto, Ontario, Elliott said he always dreamed of playing professional hockey.

That dream came true when he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2004 NHL draft by the Tampa Bay Lighting.

Elliott appeared in a Lighting uniform for a few preseason games in the 2005-2006 season, and he has spent three years in the AHL and ECHL.

“Being a pro-hockey player is a dream come true,” said Elliott. “I have played the game to the fullest. Now, having a successful business and still having the chance to do what I love is perfect.””

Ironically, it was hockey which would put him in the position for the chance of a lifetime, but it would not be in the bright lights of an NHL rink or on Hockey Night in Canada.

After being cut by Tampa prior to the 2007-2008 year, Elliott was sent to Mississippi.

The Sea Wolves were coming off of a two-year hiatus following Hurricane Katrina and 2007 marked a new beginning for the Sea Wolves and Elliot, as well.

After playing 18 games with Mississippi last year, Elliott partnered with Elise Townsen, a builder from Arizona, and Bay Homes was created. Bay Homes is an affordable housing builder currently constructing 38 homes on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has plans for at least 40 more.

“When I came to Mississippi and saw the devastation, it was apparent that people needed housing,” said Elliott. “It was either play for a few more years or take this chance. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

The company is based in Bay St. Louis, Miss. which is about 20 miles west of Biloxi. Bay St. Louis was one of the hardest-hit communities during Katrina.

Owning a construction company may not be the typical ending to a hockey player’s career, but for Elliott, it was something he had prepared for for years. Following each of the past five seasons, Elliott worked as a sub-contractor and learned the ins and outs of the business. Elliott said that experience, plus a little advice from his grandfather, is what is behind Bay Homes.

“As a child, my grandfather always reminded me that as I became successful, it would become my duty to give back,” he said. “I have always tried to follow this advice. We are in the business of building very high quality homes with affordable monthly payments. We are helping people get out of either FEMA trailers, rentals, or other situations and into the world of home ownership.”

Although most of Elliott’s time this year will be spent building homes, he still hopes to contribute to the Sea Wolves.

“When they need me, I’ll play,” Elliott said.

Sea Wolves Head Coach Steffon Walby said having Elliott as an option is a big plus for the team.

“I will definitely call him back when we have some injuries or call-ups,” Walby said. “He went to camp with us this year and looked like he didn’t miss a beat. I would not have any problem playing him for a few shifts or periods.”

On the ice, Elliott was known as a tough guy who could also score. He racked up nearly 500 penalty minutes along with 21 goals and 17 assists in his professional career.

“Being an enforcer, it’s a lot of fun,” Elliott said. “It’s not easy as you thing though. Anyone can do it once, but 30 times a year is a different story.”

With his unique situation, Elliott has found a way to continue to support the Sea Wolves and fans.

Elliott said he hopes to give away a new home to a lucky fan sometime during the season.

Starting at the Nov. 8 game against Wheeling, Elliott and the Sea Wolves will introduce the home giveaway shot.

“It’s only fitting that we work with the Sea Wolves to offer this opportunity,” Elliott said.

The contest will consist of one lucky fan being selected randomly from the crowd. That fan will then have a chance to make a shot from the blue line to win the home. If the fan does not make the shot, the same opportunity for different fans will take place at future game, Elliott said.

“I want to give away a home and we want to give as many people as possible a chance,” said Elliott.

Walby said he has seen Elliott grow and he is very proud of what he is doing.

“When he came here he was a young kid,” Walby said. “But now, he is an incredible man. His passion is hockey. He did not lose that, but he did find a new love in the community. He is doing a lot of good for a lot of people. I have really enjoyed the time we have had together.”

© Copyright 2008 Bay St. Louis Newspapers, Inc.