Cash Rowswell has been selected as the first ever winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.
Young Rowswell was presented with the award today at an emotional, albeit informal backyard gathering.
A goalie who competed at the pee wee major AA level within the Sault Major Hockey Association during the 2019-2020 season, the 13-year old Rowswell was the unanimous choice by a four person committee as the winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award from a group of eight other local puck stoppers.
T.J. Aceti passed away suddenly at the young age of 31. Born in Sault Ste. Marie on June 13, 1982, T.J. 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 closest friends, Joey Biasucci, the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award has been handed out for the first time.
Biasucci — a former OHL goalie himself with the Brampton Battalion, Soo Greyhounds and Kitchener Rangers — will, along with his family, continue to sponsor the award on an annual basis.
The 36-year old Biasucci and his father, Sam Biasucci, were among those who were on hand for today’s presentation along with a group that also included T.J. Aceti’s parents, Tony and Rose.
Mr. and Mrs. Aceti, along with long-time local hockey coach and executive Toots Kovacs, as well as your truly, represent the four person committee who decided on the aforementioned Cash Rowswell as the first ever winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award.
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.
Through the efforts of Toots Kovacs, 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.
Besides Cash Rowswell, the eight others 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.
— 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.
In accepting the T.J. Aceti Award at today’s presentation, young Rowswell thanked the assembled gathering before noting, “I am kind of speechless right now. This is such an honour to receive this award. This award is something that I will keep with me forever. Thank you so much.”
T.J. Aceti’s dad, Tony, addressed those in attendance, then spoke directly to Rowswell, and in a choked up voice, reminded the youngster to “always play with your heart. Always give it your best and remember that it is a game that is fun to play. I wish my son was here with us today but just know that my wife and I are very proud of you for being chosen to receive this award. Make sure you always have fun. Life is short.”
Besides a plaque that he will get to keep as the first winner of the T.J. Aceti Goalie Award, Rowswell was also presented with a game worn Erie Otters jersey with the name and number of T.J. Aceti on it.