In more ways than one, Ty Rimmer has come a long way since breaking into the Western Hockey League with the Brandon Wheat Kings.
By the time this season is over, the 20-year-old Lethbridge Hurricanes netminder will be qualified to write a WHL travel guide, having played for four teams — one from each of the league’s four divisions.
Less literally, the former Wheat King, Tri-City American and Prince George Cougar has gone from a borderline candidate to stick around in the league — he was one of five goalies on Brandon’s roster to start the 2010-11 season — to having a crease virtually to himself this season in Lethbridge.
Rimmer admits that back then, as an 18-year-old rookie, he had no idea if he had a long-term future in the WHL.
"That was a pretty crazy year. There was five of us in camp, all solid goalies, including the 20-year-olds Andrew Hayes and Jacob DeSerres," said Rimmer, who was traded to the Cougars early that season, eventually becoming the starter, while the Wheat Kings settled on Corbin Boes and Liam Liston as their tandem.
"There was a big question mark back then. I hadn’t proved myself yet. I was grateful for the opportunity to start in Prince George, and grateful that Brandon took a chance on me in the bantam draft."
Chosen in the 14th round of the 2007 bantam draft — Brandon’s lowest ever pick at 303rd overall — the Edmonton native has gone on to post numbers that would be the envy of most other WHL goaltenders, but has never stayed anywhere for long.
After playing 43 games for Prince George in 2010-11, the Cougars decided to flip him to Tri-City the following summer for the more-established overager Drew Owsley. All Rimmer did with the Americans was lead the WHL in goals-against average (2.43) and save percentage (.922) while mentoring 16-year-old phenom Eric Comrie. But with Comrie ready to start this season, Rimmer found himself on the move again, traded to the Hurricanes in a draft-day deal for a pair of picks.
"I think it’s all part of the business," Rimmer said. "… I knew I only had one year in Tri-City with Eric Comrie coming in and me being a 20-year-old. I made the most of my time there and had an excellent season."
The Hurricanes couldn’t be happier to have him and they’ve shown it so far this season, starting him in their first 21 games. After a so-so start, both Rimmer and the Hurricanes have picked up their game as of late, with the ’keeper ranked among league leaders once again with a 2.65 GAA and a .922 pct.
Rimmer is loving the way the Hurricanes are playing and he’s also loving being the team’s workhorse.
"That’s why they went out and acquired me," he said. "I’m here to play every night. I mean, they’ve only got me for one season. It’s my last season and I relish the responsibility and I look forward to playing every single game."
For all of his travels in the WHL, it wasn’t until last Friday when Rimmer finally made his return to Brandon for the first time since being traded to the Cougars, making 35 saves as the Hurricanes handed the hosts a 5-3 loss. Despite all the time that had passed since the trade, it was a game that Rimmer had been really looking forward to.
"It’s good to be back," he said. "I kind of feel like my career’s gone full circle."