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FUKUFUJI BECOMES FIRST JAPANESE MAN TO PLAY IN NHL GAME

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles Kings goalie Yutaka Fukufuji became the first Japanese-born person to play in the NHL when he entered Saturday's 6-5 loss to the St. Louis Blues at the start of the third period.


"I was so nervous," said the 24-year-old Fukufuji, who allowed one goal on five shots. "This was my first time playing in the NHL. I was so nervous but I was excited, too."

Fukufuji replaced Barry Brust, who allowed five goals in the first two periods.

The 24-year-old Fukufuji was recalled Friday on an emergency basis after Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with a finger injury. Fukufuji became the first Japanese native to dress for a league game Dec. 16 against Dallas in another emergency stint.

He surrendered his first goal 7:32 into the final period on the second shot he faced. Dennis Wideman scored during a power play to give the Blues a 6-4 lead.

Fukufuji was 2-0-0 with a 1.30 goals-against average in three games at Manchester of the American Hockey League and 3-3-0 with Reading of the East Coast Hockey League.

Fukufuji is one of only two players born and trained in Japan to ever be drafted by an NHL team. Originally selected by the Kings in the eighth-round (238th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Fukufuji followed in the footsteps of defenseman Hiroyuki Miura, who was drafted by Montreal in the 11th-round (260th overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

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