Kazumasa Sasaki and the Japan U20 Team
Posted by simon c on 2008 November 30日 Sunday
The JIHF announced their U20 team for the upcoming U20 Div II Group A tournament in Romania in mid-December against Korea, Serbia, Belgium, Lithuania, and hosts Romania.
All but one of the players on the Japanese U20 team are first year university players. The lone exception is Kazumasa Sasaki who is an Asia League Oji Eagles player on a (probably) one year assignment in Swedish Division I with Östersund Hockey, and he is proving himself to be a useful player scoring 6+4=10 from the blueline in 16 games at the tender age of 18.
Sasaki has yet to play a game for the strong Eagles side, but I expect him to be back with his Japanese team next season as this season in Sweden is probably all expenses paid training by Oji (similar situation to many Japanese players in the past, including Masahito Nishiwaki with the ECHL Dayton Bombers last season. Japanese players truly testing and developing their talents overseas at the pro level can sadly be counted on one hand… Yutaka Fukufuji and Kazuma Takahashi, both in the ECHL, and maybe CHL overager Takuma Kawai.) Only playing one season overseas almost seems like a waste of resources as the player just gets acclimatized to their new environment when they get called back to Japan, shame. But financial security of playing in Japan is just too comforting and secure to get more players to truly challenge themselves and develop overseas long term..