With the February 6 trade deadline fast approaching, the Mahoning Valley Phantoms coaching staff put another piece of the puzzle together last week, trading rookie defenseman Zack Barbis to the Alpena IceDiggers for veteran defenseman Carl Nielsen.
“It was a tough trade for us, and it was something we really had to take our time with,” said Phantoms assistant coach Curtis Carr. “We feel that Zack Barbis has a great future and when we sat down and thought about it, it was the best move for him to get put in a situation where he can get some more ice time this year, and Alpena is a program that is close to the school that is showing the most interest in him.”
Nielsen, 19, comes to the Phantoms with 49 games of experience at Alpena, spanning two seasons and a playoff series. Nielsen, a native of Lorain, Ohio, is excited to move closer to home and get an opportunity with the Phantoms.
“I think the Phantoms have a great team here,” Nielsen said. “We’re definitely in contention for a national championship. I hope to be a big, physical presence, put my body on guys and get the job done.”
At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, the Phantoms’ coaching staff is excited about the added size to their defensive unit, and are impressed with Nielsen’s ability in leading the Ice Diggers to the second-best power play in the NAHL.
“For a big strong kid, he is very skilled. He ran Alpena’s power play and has a great shot from up top,” said Carr. “I just think Carl gives us an added dimension because of his size and his overall natural ability as well.”