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Asian Hockey Card Collection

Here’s a revamp for a pioneer of the game for Asian hockey players, Yutaka Fukufuji @fuji44

1. Yutaka is a veteran Japanese goaltender from Kushiro, Japan. After starring for Japan in international play and winning two JIHL championships with Kokudo, he became the second Japanese born player drafted by an @nhl team when he was selected 238th overall by my @lakings in the 2004 Entry Draft (Hiroyuki Miura, whose card I haven’t been able to find, was the first when he was selected 260th overall by the @canadiensmtl in 1992). 

2. In 2004-05, Yutaka starred for the @echlhockey @ahlcondors where he led the team in leading the team in wins (27), GAA (2.91) and shutouts (3). This led to a few call ups with the Kings, and on January 13, 2007, he became the first Japanese player to play in an NHL game when he came in relief against the @stlouisblues in the third period, stopping 4 shots and allowing 1 goal. Three days later, he became the first Japanese player to start in a game against the Atlanta Thrashers; unfortunately, he allowed 3 goals on 9 shots and was pulled. 

3. Yutaka went on to play 3 more seasons in North America and 1 in Europe before returning to Japan, where he starred for 10 seasons with the @h.c.tochigi_nikko_icebucks while also frequently representing Japan in international tournaments. 

4. I’m pretty sure he’s the first Japanese goalie to fight in a pro game (he fought while playing for the Condors). As a fun fact Bakersfield-related fact, another Asian player that was featured, @1danielkim, was teammates with Yutaka on the Condors and was occasionally mistaken for him by reporters! 

5. Yutaka is still playing at the age of 39 and is suiting up for Japan in the 2022 Olympic qualifiers!

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Yutaka Fukufuji

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