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11/14/2017, 12:45pm EST
By Nicole Rutigliano

Billet families help Rockets players’ careers take off

BRIDGEWATER, NJ – In August, about 50 young men skated into the Bridgewater area to pursue their hockey dreams as members of the New Jersey Rockets. These players, who range in age from 16-20 years old, are from all over the United States, as well as Canada and overseas, and found  a place to call home here in the Bridgewater area.

The New Jersey Rockets Billet, or host family, program is a staple to the organization, which allows players from outside the immediate area the opportunity to play at the highest level of junior hockey and have a home away from home. Billet families provide a caring, supportive, family environment for the players with the reward of lifelong friendships.

“A home away from home is crucial to staying on track for your goals throughout a vigorous and long season,” said former Rocket Ryan Spencer who stayed the 2016-2017 season with the Del Gaizo family in Basking Ridge. 

Karen Blackman, who is a current Billet Mom to Brett Dillon from Arizona says "It's something we enjoy and it's great to be able to share our love of the sport with someone who needs a home away from home." Chris, Brett's Billet Dad says quite simply "It's fun having a hockey player in the house".

Families who join the Rockets billet program are provided with the following:

  • a monthly stipend to assist in offsetting food and other costs
  • an invitation to participate in the Billet Appreciation Night in the spring
  • two full season tickets per player they host, if the player is on the Rockets top-tier team (the only team that charges admission)

“The billeting program has been a critical aspect to our program,” said Head Coach Sean Cromarty. “It has been a rewarding experience for many of our players over the past two seasons. Connections have been made between both players and their families, which will last a lifetime.”

For next year, the Rockets will be looking for host families.  Anyone interested in learning more about the billet family program can contact Nicole Rutigliano, at 732.627.0006 ext. 124 or via email

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