Now, goaltender Mariah Fujimagari could be the first woman to earn a spot on the K-Wings roster.
“I think it’s incredible to just push the borders and have that atmosphere of inclusion,” Fujimagari said.
K-Wings head coach Joel Martin saw Fujimagari play at a goaltending symposium a few years back. She made an impression.
“We’re looking for good hockey players and we’re looking for players that do things a certain way here in Kalamazoo, and she checks all those boxes, so we thought I’d be great to give her an opportunity to come in here and battle for a spot,” Martin said.
Fujimagari has played professionally on some of the top women’s teams in Europe and the United States, but is no stranger to playing alongside the men either. Every summer, she trains with NHL and AHL players in Toronto.
“I just love being on the ice and I love stopping the puck,” she said. “I love being on the ice with the most competitive players, and if that means that it’s the guys, then it’s the guys, I just love being in the net.”
Fujimagari is signed to a professional tryout, meaning her spot on the team isn’t guaranteed. She’s among four goaltenders fighting to make it.
“I think it’s important that I just show up to the rink ready to go every single day, and executing to the best of my ability. And that’s what I’ve been able to do every single day here at camp, and that’s what I continue to be able to do,” Fujimagari said.
If Fujimagari makes the team, she’ll become only the third woman in ECHL history to sign with a team and the first since 1995.