Had the Tri-City Americans not needed to find a home for overage goaltender Drew Owsley, fellow goalie Ty Rimmer might not have had a home in the Western Hockey League this season.
After a disappointing year in Prince George last season, Rimmer was halfway out the door when the Americans came calling, offering a player-for-player trade -- Owsley for Rimmer.
The move resuscitated Rimmer's career, and he's still reaping the benefits of the trade. Thursday, he was named a Western Conference first-team All-Star, along with forward Brendan Shinnimin.
It is the first time the Americans have had a first-team player since goalie Chet Pickard in 2008-09.
"We are very proud," Tri-City general manager Bob Tory said. "The players will be the first to admit individual success comes with team success. Ty was almost out of the league, to be honest. His career started later, and he didn't have a good year in Prince George. These are hard things for people. The situation here allowed him to have success. Ty has done a tremendous job."
The award also brought Rimmer the Western Conference Goaltender of the Year honor, last won by Pickard in 2008-09. Rimmer also is a finalist for WHL Goaltender of the Year with Medicine Hat's Tyler Bunz.
Rimmer finished the regular season with the best goals against average (2.43) and best save percentage (.922) in the WHL. He had a 31-12-1-1 record and tied for a league-high five shutouts with Seattle's Calvin Pickard.
"It's definitely emotional," Rimmer said. "I couldn't have done this without my teammates and the staff. They gave me an opportunity to play in Tri, and it has been a great ride so far. I'm extremely thankful and honored."
Tri-City forwards Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland were named to the second team, and coach Jim Hiller was named Western Conference Coach of the Year. It's the first time in franchise history that four players earned conference honors.
"It speaks to the regular season and the success we had," said Hiller, who earned his first coaching honor. "They deserve it, and it shows the impact they had on our season. There probably are others in the room that deserved recognition."
Hiller, in his third year with the Americans, led the team to the U.S. Division title and first place in the Western Conference with a 50-18-2-2 (104 points) record.
"Jim has done a tremendous job," Tory said. "It's hard coming in after a coach like Don (Nachbaur), but we didn't feel like we lost our coach. It was a smooth transition. To have two coaches of the year in my time (Nachbaur won in 2007-08) would be wonderful."
Rimmer finished the regular season with the best goals against average (2.43) and best save percentage (.922) in the WHL. He finished the season with a 31-12-1-1 record and tied for a league-high five shutouts with Calvin Pickard of Seattle.
Shinnimin, who picked up the Bob Clarke trophy as the league's leading scorer with 134 points, was a second-team pick last year.
"It's pretty cool to win a league award," said Shinnimin, who had 58 goals and 76 assists this season. "You work all year and give it your best shot and these are the extra incentives that you earn. To see your teammates earn them is nice. With the season we've had, finishing first and the numbers we had, it's hard to keep them off the list. They deserve that."
Hughesman, who has spent his entire career with the Americans, scored 50 goals and finished with 116 points.
"I'm proud of the guys who got nominated," Hughesman said. "Ty and Shinny first team and Jim coach of the year. This was a special year."
Holland, who also eclipsed the 100-point mark, finished with a league-high 84 assists and 25 goals.
"This is one more thing to add to what's happened this year," Holland said. "With the caliber of the players in the league, it's an honor to be named with a guy like (Portland's Sven) Bartschi."