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Asian Hockey Card Collection

This is a monster upgrade (certified, silver autograph in tategaki) featuring 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 @ahlcondors in the @echlhockey where he led the team in wins (27), GAA (2.91) and shutouts (3). This resulted in 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 led the Icebucks to a 2nd place finish in the 2021 Japan Cup (finishing with a 2.33 GAA in 9 games)! He is also a family man with 4 young children.

Thanks to @mvp_91324 for the deal on this unique card!

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Yutaka Fukufuji (Upgrade)

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