ECHL Playoffs update
Posted by simon c on 2008 April 28日 Monday
Fukufuji almost singlehandedly won the first round of the ECHL playoffs for his Bakersfield Condors against the Victoria Salmon Kings, but he was spraygunned with 61 shots, so it would’ve been a true miracle had the Condors won, as Victoria was truly superior in every other facet of the game. Fukufuji intends on playing in North America again next season, hopefully he’ll get a chance with an AHL club.
Every party has a spoil-sport and this one almost did, too. His name was Yutaka Fukufuji. The Bakersfield Condors goaltender was the reason the Salmon Kings were forced into overtime for the victory.
Fukufuji, the first Japanese-born player to play in the NHL, almost single-handedly forced a Game 7. Regulation time was dominated in almost every facet by the Salmon Kings. Every aspect except one — goaltending.
The shots clock at the end of regulation time read a glaring 57-23 in favour of Victoria and ended 61-25.
“He [Fukufuji] stood on his head all series and kept them in it,” said Goldie.
“But we knew if we kept putting the shots on him, some had to eventually go in and we got one more goal than they did tonight.”
But the dominant Salmon Kings not only had to solve the gallant crease efforts of Fukufuji, they had to do it by contending with five against-the-grain goals by the Condors that kept pulses pounding amid the deafening din caused by the near sold-out crowd.
Despite holding a wide edge in play, the Salmon Kings had to fight back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. But after finally taking a 5-4 lead on third-period goals by Marc-Andre Bernier and Ryan Wade, the Salmon Kings saw the opportunistic Condors tie it 5-5 on former Senators draft-pick Andrew Ianiero’s fifth goal of the series at 13:16 of the third period.
In a game in which the shots were flowing for them like winter-rain water out of the Sooke Reservoir, the S-Kings were forced into the strange and painstaking position of trying to climb back into a game that might have turned into a blowout against a goalie of lesser calibre that Fukufuji.
Bernier had two goals for Victoria and Wade, Chris St. Jacques and Paul Ballantyne one each. Ianiero led the Condors with two goals.
But the biggest goalbelonged to the tricky Goldie in OT, who took a lovely two-on-one pass from Estrada and made a move around Fukufuji that was truly worthy of a golden goal.
Now the Salmon Kings are facing the Utah Grizzlies in the second round. The Grizzlies feature Japanese forward Kazuma Takahashi, but he was a healthy scratch and didn’t make the trip up to Victoria for the first 2 games of the series, which the teams split with blowout scores of 6-0 and 1-6.
As reported earlier Nishiwaki’s Dayton Bombers lost the best of 3 mini playoff round, so he flew back to Japan in time to play in the World Championships Division I B which was hosted by Sapporo. He played well in the tournament, but it was not enough for Japan to advance to the top division as Japan finished a strong 3rd in the tourney.