Six years after his sudden passing at age 31, Sault Ste. Marie native T.J. Aceti is being honoured and recognized by the Sault Major Hockey Association with an award that will bear his name.
Born on June 13, 1982, Aceti passed away in his sleep from heart failure on March 14, 2014.
A quiet, likeable young man, Aceti rose through the ranks of the Soo Pee Wee Hockey League and Sault Major Hockey Association as a goalie who became exceptional enough to be picked by the Oshawa Generals in the third round of the 1999 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
He spent parts of three seasons with Oshawa and parts of two others with the Erie Otters.
After being acquired by Erie from Oshawa early in the 2001-2002 season, Aceti would help the Otters win the 2002 OHL championship. He was then voted as the top goalie at the 2002 Memorial Cup tournament after posting a 1.91 goals against average and .942 save percentage in back-stopping Erie into the semi-final match, which the Otters lost in overtime.
Aceti went on to play minor pro hockey before a knee injury ended his career.
At any rate, through the efforts of one of Aceti’s many friends, Joey Biasucci, Sault Major will for the first time this year — at its annual year-end banquet next month — hand out the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.
Biasucci — a former OHL goalie himself — will, along with his family, sponsor the award on an annual basis.
The criteria of the ward is intended to mirror the qualities that T.J. possessed. Namely:
— Dedicated to the game.
— Hard working and focused but also knowing how to have fun.
— Respect for his or her coaches and teammates as well as being respected by his or her coaches and teammates.
— Does that extra work after practice.
— Has a strong mindset, is confident, focused and disciplined.
— Understands the importance of school.
Sault Major invited all AA and AAA coaches from all of the teams at the atom, pee wee, bantam and midget levels to submit a written submission as why they feel their goalie should win the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.
While not all coaches acted on the request of Sault Major to nominate their particular goalie(s), nine considerate coaches did take the time and effort to do so.
Those nominated by their coaches for the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award are as follows.
— Levi Inch, atom minor AA.
— Gavin Zuccato, atom major AA.
— Maija St. Pierre, atom major AA.
— Cash Rowswell, pee wee major AA.
— Dalton Hoornstra, pee wee minor AAA.
— Cameron Boville and Charlie Burns (in tandem), bantam minor AAA.
— Terry See, bantam major AAA.
— Odysey Hopkins, midget major AA.
— Trevor Renard, midget major AA.
A four-person committee consisting of T.J.’s parents — Tony and Rose Aceti — as well as a member of the Sault Major executive and a member of the local sports media are entrusted to choose the first-ever winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.