The Denver Cutthroats announced today they have signed forward Takuma Kawai and rookie defenseman Tyler Atkins to their roster for the upcoming 2012-13 Central Hockey League season.
Kawai (tuh-KOO-muh kuh-WY) will begin his fourth professional season, and first in the CHL, after playing in Asia for the past three years. The Eniwa, Japan native also was a member of Japan’s National Team each of the last three years.
"Kawai is a speedy forward with Canadian Major Junior experience who’s ready to shift his game to the US," said Cutthroats Head Coach Derek Armstrong. "He has a connection to our team after playing with Aaron MacKenzie last season in Asia and we’re exciting to bring him in."
While playing alongside the current Cutthroats defenseman last season, the 23-year-old recorded six goals and 20 assists in 36 games for the Tohoku Free Blades in Asia. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound forward also skated for the Free Blades the two previous seasons, registering 56 points (14 goals, 42 assists) in 89 total games from 2009-12.
Prior to turning pro, Kawai spent two seasons in the QMJHL – appearing in 72 games and tallying 16 points on six goals and 10 assists.
Atkins, 25, begins his pro career after completing a four-year stint at Castleton State College in Vermont where he co-captained the Men’s Hockey Team his senior season and registered 25 points in 27 games on two goals, 23 assists.
"Tyler is a young, puck-moving defenseman that will have a chance to learn from some of our veteran players as he begins his career," added Armstrong. "He was a leader in college and he steadily improved on the ice during his college career. Now we’re looking for him to continue that progress with us."
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound product of Brockton, Ontario finished his collegiate career tied as the leading scorer in school history among defensemen with 63 points and second in games played with 103. Atkins scored 43 points in 54 games over his final two years at Castleton State College.
Kawai and Atkins extend the Cutthroats preseason roster to six. The team begins their inaugural season on October 19th.