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Isogai Turns Pro, Signs with Asia League's East Hokkaido Cranes

June 15, 2022 - North American Hockey League (NAHL) - North Iowa Bulls News Release

Forward Sota Isogai with the Mason City Toros
Forward Sota Isogai with the Mason City Toros
(North Iowa Bulls)

KUSHIRO, Japan - The North Iowa Bulls and Mason City Toros, proud members of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) and North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL), are honored to announce that forward Sota Isogai has signed his first professional contract with the East Hokkaido Cranes of Asia League Ice Hockey. He becomes the 16th player in North Iowa Bulls history to reach the professional ranks, and the first professional alumnus to have suited up for the Toros.

Isogai's professional signing marks a return home for the three-year Bulls and Toros veteran, who grew up in Nagano, Japan. During those three years, he etched his name firmly in the organization's history books, racking up 143 points in 128 regular-season games at the NAHL and NA3HL levels. After playing for the Okanagan club in Europe during the 2018-19 season, he made his mark immediately upon arriving in the United States for the 2019-20 campaign, scoring 38 points in a North Iowa uniform and helping the Bulls earn an NA3HL West Division championship.

He returned to the Bulls in 2020-21, contributing 31 points on the way to another West Division crown. His seven points in the postseason, including a pair of goals in the West Division Finals, were a major factor in the team's run to its fourth Fraser Cup title. His game reached new heights in 2021-22 as a member of the newly-branded Toros, rolling up 72 points to finish second on the roster in scoring and leading them back to within a win of another Fraser Cup tournament.

Isogai also made his NAHL debut in 2021-22, suiting up once again for the Bulls as part of a seven-game call-up in November and December. He made his NAHL debut November 20 against the St. Cloud Norsemen, marking his 100th appearance in junior hockey, one night after reaching 100 career junior points with a pair of goals against the Minnesota Loons. His first NAHL appearance put him in rare company as one of just 11 Japanese-born players to ever appear in an NAHL contest, with five of the previous 10 returning to Japan and advancing to the professional ranks.

The East Hokkaido Cranes joined the Asia League in 2019, but trace their history back to the founding of the Nippon Paper Cranes in 1949. The Cranes have become a dominant force in Japanese professional hockey, with the two teams combining to win nine All-Japan championships since 2006.

The North Iowa Bulls and Mason City Toros congratulate Sota Isogai on his professional signing with the East Hokkaido Cranes, and wish him all success in the next stage of his hockey career.

Images from this story

Forward Sota Isogai with the Mason City Toros
Forward Sota Isogai with the Mason City Toros


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