Fresh from a morning skate, Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Ty Rimmer, dressed in a black track suit, walked through the back door of Toyota Center on Thursday for the first time since leaving at the end of last season.
An offseason trade by the Tri-City Americans sent Rimmer to Lethbridge for his overage season, and tonight, he and the Hurricanes are here for the teams’ only meeting of the season.
Walking down the hallway outside the Americans’ dressing room, Rimmer took note of his name on the wall of fame, listing the top players and goalies for regular-season, playoff and career feats.
“This is surreal,” Rimmer said. “You walk down the hallway and see all the greats — the guys you looked up to. It’s special. Last season was a special year. It’s something I will never forget — all these people — my teammates. We were part of something special. All the individual accomplishments came as a team. That’s why they are so special.”
Rimmer arrived in the Tri-Cities last fall after a trade from Prince George. His numbers with the Cougars weren’t spectacular, but with Tri-City, Rimmer dazzled.
He was 31-12-1-1 with five shutouts, a 2.43 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. He helped lead the Americans to the U.S. Division title and a spot in the Western Con-ference finals against Portland. He also was named Western Conference Goaltender of the Year.
“This was my home for eight months,” Rimmer said. “It’s not just a place to play hockey. It was a brotherhood. The fans were great to me. Some of the ovations I got were pretty spine-tingling. To be received like that by 5,000 people every night is special.
“I knew my stay in Tri-City was only going to be one season, but I made the most of it. I’m excited to be back. I hope I get a good reception.”
While at Toyota Center on Thursday, Rimmer ran into Americans goalie Eric Comrie, who was mentored last season as a rookie by Rimmer.
“We developed that friendship that only goalies have,” Rimmer said. “I liked being a mentor and taking him under my wing.”
Comrie appreciated everything Rimmer did for him.
“I’ve really missed him,” Comrie said. “Everyone will be excited to see him, then battle against him the next night.”
Tonight, Comrie will be at one end of the ice and Rimmer at the other. This was common place during practice last year, but tonight, every puck that goes in the net has consequences.
“He’s a really good goalie,” Comrie said. “I’m not sure we have an advantage. We just have to put pucks on net. That’s what you have to do against good goalies. It will be weird to play against him. There are no friends on the ice. I’m sure we’ll talk after the game, but it’s my job to go out there and try to get two points.”
Rimmer already has faced his fair share of pucks this season, including 60 in a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Sept. 26. He has a 3.00 GAA and a .918 save percentage for the Hurricanes (2-2-0-0).
“My job is to stop the puck,” Rimmer said. “I’m sure before the game, I will be giving my teammates pointers on Comrie and their defense.”
The Hurricanes need all the help they can get. Last season, Rimmer won more games (31) than Lethbridge did during the regular season (29-42-0-1).
“I feel winning is a culture,” Rimmer said. “You have to bring it every day, every skate, every practice. I’ve talked to some of the older players, and we are making some changes.”
w Annie Fowler: 582-1574; email@example.com