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Billet parents in Timmins share what it's like to open their homes to young hockey players

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Every weekend, Bob McIntyre, 'Hockey Billet Dad,' whips up homemade blueberry pancakes for his favourite Timmins Rock hockey player, Liam Wells.

Liam Wells, a Timmins Rock forward, wearing number 28 in the 2023-2024 season. (Supplied/Timmins Rock)For more than 20 years, hockey has been a big part of McIntyre's life, mostly as a trainer or manager.

“When I bought my house, my niece said to me 'You often said when you had room, you would billet and the Rock is looking for billets' so I made contact with the Rock, next thing you know I had a hockey player moving in and that’s four years ago," said McIntyre.

"This is my fifth year.”

A gallery of photographs of past and present billets hovers over the kitchen table. It's a loving reminder of the impact they've had on their host.

“It’s just great to have someone around the house and someone to take care of I guess and they’re all great kids," said McIntyre.

"They’re never any problem because they’re in a pretty serious level of hockey."

This is Wells' second season living at McIntyre's home. The Oshawa native, who wears number 28, is a forward for the Rock.

“Takes good care of me, feeds me good and he’s just good to be around," said Wells.

"It’s really important cause you could have a bad game or something and you don’t want to come home and just be on your own you want someone to be there for you."

Wells appreciates having McIntyre cheering him on at games; and along with the pancakes, taco Tuesdays are another perk.

Shawna Pettyjohn is also a member of the Rock's billet family. Her household is home to number 23, Jaden Lyons from Markham.

Jaden Lyons, a Timmins Rock forward, wearing number 23 in the 2023-2024 season. (Supplied/Timmins Rock)“It’s almost like he should have been part of our family," said Pettyjohn, 'Hockey Billet Mom.'

Pettyjohn hails from the west coast and married a Timmins man. They have a daughter and she said billeting is in her blood.

"Growing up I had hockey billet brothers; my grandparents were hockey billets. I always had them and it was such a good experience for me I wanted my family to experience it," said Pettyjohn.

Pettyjohn said billeting Rock players has been nothing but rewarding, partly because the organization itself is remarkable.

“Nothing can compare to Timmins; the energy and how they support their team is amazing," she said.

The billet parents told CTV News that once the players move into your homes, they also move into your hearts and recommend the experience to anyone, especially those with a more laid-back attitude on life.

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