KENNEWICK -- When the Tri-City Americans open the season in September, their goaltender will stand in the crease for the first time as a starter in the team's red, white and blue.
The Americans traded veteran goalie Drew Owsley and a conditional draft pick to Prince George on Thursday for goalie Ty Rimmer, a third-round bantam draft pick in 2012 and a fifth-round pick in 2013.
"It's kind of shocking," Owsley said from his home in Lethbridge, Alberta. "It's a weird feeling. It really hasn't sunk in yet, I don't think. I've been on one team my whole career. Obviously, I knew we had some good 20-year-olds. I wasn't safe for sure. I thought I'd at least be there until the (overage) deadline (Oct. 13). I'm going to miss Tri, for sure."
Owsley said he had a message from Tri-City general manager Bob Tory when he returned from his workout Thursday morning.
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"I wasn't sure what was up," Owsley said. "I thought they wanted me to work the hockey camp."
Tory said it was hard to trade a player who had helped the team win its first Western Conference title in 2010.
"Drew is a good goalie, and to trade him was a difficult thing," Tory said. "The market for 20-year-old goalies is not that great. We got a great return. We think Ty can come in and give us good minutes. We're not saying he's Drew Owsley, but he can play. We are confident Eric (Comrie) will develop into a good goaltender, as good as we've had in the past."
With Owsley gone, Tory still has five overage players on his roster: forwards Adam Hughesman, Brendan Shinnimin and Mason Wilgosh, and defensemen Matt MacKenzie and Brock Sutherland.
"It would be nice to keep them all, but you can't," Tory said. "They all deserve a chance to play in the league. I still have two more to go. I have to do what's best for the players and the team in the long run."
The Americans haven't kept an overage goalie since Tyler Weiman in 2003-04. From there, Carey Price (2003-07) left at 20, as did Chet Pickard (2005-09). Owsley stepped in after Pickard departed.
"If we weren't so strong at the other positions, we may not have traded him," Tory said. "Prince George really wanted Drew. They felt they needed to upgrade their goaltending to be a contender. He will play a lot of games there."
Rimmer, 19, appeared in 43 games last year as a rookie. He was 17-20-0-2 with a 3.29 goals against average and a .899 save percentage with four shutouts.
The Edmonton, Alberta, native said he welcomes a change of scenery but that he knows it will be hard to step into Owsley's shadow.
"I'm excited to come to Tri-City," Rimmer said. "Prince George treated me very well, and I got an opportunity to play there. I'm excited to play for a strong team and a well-known organization. Tri-City has produced some pretty talented goalies, and Drew is no exception. I'm not looking to replace him, just do what I can."
Rimmer will share time in goal with Comrie, who spent time with the Americans in the playoffs last season.
"I'm OK sharing time," Rimmer said. "(Comrie) is still 16, but he's a promising goalie. I'm interested in seeing what the kid can do."
Owsley played 122 regular-season games for the Americans over a three-year span, posting a 76-33-2-2 record with a 2.68 GAA, a .911 save percentage and nine shutouts. He ranks third on the Americans' all-time list for regular-season wins, GAA and shutouts, second for save percentage and sixth in games and minutes played.
Owsley owns nearly every Tri-City playoff record, including games played (29), minutes played (1,684), wins (18), save percentage (.920) and shutouts (3). He ranks second in GAA (2.49). He was named Western Conference Finals MVP in 2010.
"I can't thank Tri enough," Owsley said. "If not for them, I wouldn't be where I am. Everyone said I was too small (5-foot-8, 170 pounds). They gave me a change and treated me really well. I was looking forward to coming back and mentoring Eric. Hopefully I taught him a little something when he was here for the playoffs."
As for the Cougars, GM Dallas Thompson was on cloud nine Thursday afternoon.
"I'm very happy," Thompson said. "We've struggled with our goaltending, and it's something we wanted to address. This has been in the works for a while. We got a good goalie. He has been a winner all the way along. He won in the regular season and the playoffs. Our whole team is excited. We needed this."
Said Owsley: "They told me I was the missing piece of the puzzle. Hopefully I can make the best of it."
The Americans will play at Prince George on Oct. 21-22, while the Cougars will play at Toyota Center on March 11 and 13.
"I don't want to hear 'We're going to Burger Ranch' when I'm there," Owsley said.