Don’t let yesterday’s game fool you. Although she had a bad outing, Nana Fujimoto is an elite goaltender, and in my opinion, the best in the women’s game right now.
Fujimoto, 32, has shown great results at every single level of hockey she has played, and even at the national stage, has had pretty good numbers despite playing for an underdeveloped club in Japan. She went 3-2-0 at this year’s tournament, finishing with a .900 SV% and facing the second-most shots of any goaltender at the tournament, trailing just Andrea Braendli of Switzerland.
Fujimoto’s most recent professional season was spent in Sweden in 2019-20, prior to the COVID-19 cancellations. She played for Farjestad BK in the Division-1 Swedish Women’s League and posted a .967 SV% and 0.62 GAA through eight games played, which is insane.
Fujimoto spent one year in North America, playing with the New York Riveters of the NWHL, posting a .914 SV% through 12 games before heading back to Japan due to her obligations with her nation’s national team.
Fujimoto has had an amazing international career, being named the best goaltender of the 2015 IIHF Women’s Championship, and being able to keep up with some of the best nations. She is the face of hockey in Japan, and has been the team’s starting goaltender since the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
It makes you wonder, seeing goaltenders on Canada and America allowing multiple goals on less than 15 shots, every single game, what Fujimoto would be able to do behind teams like that. Not that Japan is bad by any means, but their defensive game isn’t good enough to fend off top-level teams, and it often leads Fujimoto to be peppered with shots.
Fujimoto has people watching Japan games just for her, and that is a huge accomplishment. I’m not sure where their hockey program will be once she decides to retire, but as long as she is playing, you can bet on them being competitive enough to play in the World Championship and Olympics.