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Smile Japan goalie Nana Fujimoto out for six months following surgery on shoulder

by Jack Gallagher

Staff Writer

Smile Japan star goalkeeper Nana Fujimoto will be sidelined for six months following shoulder surgery, The Japan Times has learned.

Considered one of the top female goalies in the world, Fujimoto was injured during Japan’s second preliminary-round game at the Pyeongchang Olympics, a 3-1 loss to Switzerland, in February.

The 29-year-old Fujimoto, a two-time Olympian, dislocated her right shoulder in the defeat and underwent an operation to repair the damage last month.

The Sapporo native sat out Japan’s third preliminary-round game, a historic 4-1 triumph over the combined Korean team, but returned to the net for Japan’s two classification-round contests. Fujimoto helped lead Japan to a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory over Sweden in the first classification-round game.

Japan notched its first two Olympic victories ever in Pyeongchang and finished with a 2-3 record.

Fujimoto, who plays her club hockey for Voltex Sapporo, posted a picture of herself in the hospital with her right arm in a sling on her Instagram account after the surgery and said she had “been putting together puzzles with her left hand.”

“Nana will require six months of rehabilitation following the surgery before she can play again,” Japan Ice Hockey Federation official Taeko Hosoya said by phone on Thursday.

Fujimoto spent the 2015-16 season playing for the New York Riveters in the National Women’s Hockey League, and started in goal at the circuit’s All-Star Game.