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Goalie Fukufuji hopes overseas experience helps Icebucks

Kyodo

One-time NHL goaltender Yutaka Fukufuji said Thursday he is willing to contribute his overseas experience in playing for the Nikko Icebucks of the Asia League Ice Hockey League.

“I want to offer my overseas experience for the team. I will give my all to help the team win,” Fukufuji said as he was unveiled by the club at Nikko Kirifuri Ice Arena.

Fukufuji, 27, will play for a Japanese club for the first time since he was with Kokudo in the 2003-04 season.

He became the first Japanese ever to play in an NHL game in January 2007 and made three other appearances for the Los Angeles Kings that season.

Last season, he played for the Destil Trappers in the Netherlands.

On reasons why he chose to play for the Icebucks, Fukufuji said, “I had an offer from a club overseas but my feeling for Japan got stronger after playing for my country for the first time in six years at the world championship (in the second-tier group) last April.”

“I was also attracted by the Icebucks’ community-based approach,” he added.