Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Condors give flying Fukufuji a chance

Try while you're at it
In Japan, they use meatballs instead of hockey pucks.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif(AFP) - The Bakersfield Condors hottest selling poster these days features Yutaka Fukufuji and four of his teammates dressed in Japanese silk robes while clutching samurai swords.

Great ice hockey goalies don't normally come from Japan, but Fukufuji's play this season has made believers out of his Bakersfield teammates. The 22-year-old from Hokkaido is the Condors' No 1 netminder and has established himself as one of the top rookies this season in professional ice hockey's ECHL.

"It is incredible for a rookie in this league to have as many wins as he has," said Condors coach Marty Raymond, who knows a big game when he sees it. "He is the pickup of the year. He's got the quickest glove I have ever seen at this level and cat-like reflexes. He is young and if he keeps progressing the way he is then he will play in the NHL."

Fukufuji was selected in the eighth round (238th overall) of the National Hockey League's 2004 entry draft by the Los Angeles Kings. He is just the second Japanese player drafted in NHL history behind Hiroyuki Miura who was chosen by Montreal in the 11th round 13 years ago.

Fukufuji is third in the league with 27 victories and has three shutouts and a respectable 2.48 goals against average for the fourth place Condors (38-22-10) in the highly-competitive West Division.

"He is at the gym every night," Raymond said. "He takes care of his body. When we go on the road I don't have to worry about him like some of my other players because he doesn't go out with the broads."

Fukufuji's favourite player is New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur.

It's that last part, about "the broads" and Martin Brodeur, that cracks me up the most...

In a somewhat related story, ex-ECHL player Corey Pecker told us that he doesn't think former Kings defenseman Mike Pudlick's name is all that funny, either.