Yutaka Fukufuji (福藤 豊 Fukufuji Yutaka, born September 17, 1982) is a Japanese ice hockey player currently with the Nikko Ice Bucks of the Asia League Ice Hockey. Fukufuji was the first Japanese player to appear in a National Hockey League game. The first Japanese draft pick, Hiroyuki Miura, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Draft, but never played in an NHL game. Fukufuji is the first Japanese citizen to be drafted as a goaltender in the NHL and second Japanese national to be drafted.
September 17, 1982|
Kushiro, Hokkaidō, Japan
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)|
Nikkō Ice Bucks|
Bakersfield Condors (ECHL)
Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Reading Royals (ECHL)
Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)
Kokudo Tokyo (ALIH)
238th overall, 2004|
Los Angeles Kings
|Men's ice hockey|
|2011 Astana-Almaty||Ice hockey|
Fukufuji was born in Kushiro, Hokkaidō, Japan. He played on the Kokudo hockey team of Asia League Ice Hockey in 2001. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2004 entry draft in the 8th round, 238th overall. He made his North American debut on February 7, 2003 with the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. He was voted the ECHL rookie of the month in January 2003. He played for the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL in 2004–05 leading the team in wins, GAA, and shutouts. Fukufuji signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings in August 2005. After starting the 2005–06 season with the Reading Royals, the Kings ECHL franchise, Yutaka was the number 2 goalie on the AHL Manchester Monarchs for a time.
When goaltender Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with a broken finger, Fukufuji was again recalled and flew in from Cleveland, Ohio to dress as backup to goalie Barry Brust. On January 13, 2007, Fukufuji made his first NHL appearance, the first by a Japanese player, when Kings head coach Marc Crawford decided to put him in to start the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues. Fukufuji entered the game with the Kings trailing 5–4. He allowed one goal in the period, and the Kings also scored one goal while he was in net. The final score of the game was 6–5 in favor of St. Louis; as Fukufuji was the goaltender who allowed the decisive sixth St. Louis goal, he was assessed the loss.
On January 16, 2007, Fukufuji made history again when he became the first Japanese player to start in an NHL game, as he began the game in goal for the Kings against the Atlanta Thrashers.
On May 25, 2009, Fukufuji was signed by the Destil Trappers of the Eredivisie, the top league in the Netherlands. After one full season with Destil Trappers Fukufuji signed with Nikko Ice Bucks in July 2010.
|2006–07||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||4||96||7||0||0||4.37||0||3||0||36||0.837|
- Grossman, Evan (2007-03-14). "NHL Insider: When It Comes To Hockey, It's A Small World". National Hockey League. External link in
- Matsuda, Gann (2007-02-21). "Fukufuji Proud Of Season As He Looks Forward". Rafu Shimpo. p. 2. Retrieved 2012-08-07.
- Wigge, Larry (2007-01-16). "Kings Goalie Is First Native Japanese Player In The NHL". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2007-08-01. External link in
- Griffith, Mike (2007-09-11). "Condors 'Delighted' At Fukufuji's Return". Bakersfield Californian. Archived from the original on June 11, 2008. Retrieved 2007-09-25. External link in
- "Trappers sign Japanese goalie". Destil Trappers. 2009-05-25. Archived from the original on 2009-06-23. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
- "Team | Hc Nikko Ice Bucks". Icebucks.jp. Archived from the original on 2012-08-04. Retrieved 2012-08-30.