At long last, Japanese goaltender Nana Fujimoto is ready to play hockey.
Fujimoto, 30, signed with Färjestad BK last July. However, a leg fracture in September kept her at home in Japan, rehabbing the injury and missing the team’s first seven games. She arrived in Karlstad late on Nov. 11, joining her younger sister Nachi in Sweden’s second-tier Division I. The Fujimoto sisters are the first Japanese players in team history.
Nachi, 28, joined the team in 2018, earning FBK Player of the Year accolades during her rookie season. She’s currently the points leader of Färjestad BK’s defense corps with three goals and three assists.
According to Nana, Nachi’s influence played a critical role in her choice to come to Sweden:
“Nachi has told me so much about the club and the city so I went here. It will be fun,” she told the club’s website.
Nachi, for her part, echoed the sentiments, saying, “It’s so fun to have her here.”
Both Fujimoto sisters spent time in the North American pro leagues; Nana was a fan-favorite inaugural New York Riveter in the NWHL while Nachi played for the CWHL’s Boston Blades and Les Canadiennes de Montréal.
Färjestad BK is off to an unbeaten run in their first seven games. They sit at the top of DI’s Västra division and are aiming for promotion to the SDHL. While goaltenders Linda Glädt and Johanna Kallionpää are off to a good start, they’re young, only 22 and 18 respectively. Nana’s experience should be a great boon as they keep developing and keep up the strong play, and the team staff is excited to have her fit:
“Nana is a very capable goalkeeper. She was a big factor in why Japan just beat Sweden and sent our national team down in the B-group at the last World Cup,” said general manager Bo Lennartsson.
Färjestad BK continues their season on Nov. 16, traveling to Hällefors IK.