Indian Ice head coach and general manager Kyle Wallack is looking forward to getting New England prep school standout Cristoval "Boo" Nieves on the ice for his first practice with the team on Thursday at Pepsi Coliseum.
Nieves closed out his high school season at the Kent School in Connecticut last weekend with a semifinal-round loss to St. Sebastian's School (Mass.) in the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association large-schools tournament.
Nieves made the flight to Indiana on Thursday morning.
Wallack expects Nieves to be in the lineup when his team plays host to the Youngstown Phantoms on Friday in a critical United States Hockey League showdown. The Ice will then battle the Green Bay Gamblers on Saturday.
"He'll be in for practice [Thursday]," Wallack told NHL.com "I haven't really set a role for him. All our guys wouldn't want to pigeonhole him, and want to give him opportunities, putting him in a situation where he can thrive.
"It's a big jump from prep school to the USHL, so we'll work him in slowly but surely and give him an opportunity to showcase his talents because he is a high-end talented kid who can skate and make plays and obviously we want to use him in his best interest and in ours and get those right complements."
Wallack was asked where he feels Nieves, who is ranked No. 31 on NHL Central Scouting's list of North American skaters eligible for the 2012 Draft, might fit in his lineup. Nieves will attend the University of Michigan in the fall of 2012.
"I think it's just chemistry," he said. "We have guys who have been playing together since September and they kind of know each other. But "Boo" has a lot of previous relationships with our guys, like [goalie] Jon Gillies
, who he has played with overseas, and he grew up with [forward] Robert Polesello
. I've watched him play for the last five years and know what he's about … it's a matter of how he clicks with some of the other players."
Wallack doesn't believe Nieves' presence will distract team chemistry -- Indiana is currently third in the Eastern Conference with 62 points, one point behind Youngstown.
"Boo is such a high-end talent, he can only help us improve and he's a great kid," Wallack said. "I think he'll be great in our locker room, and knowing that a lot of our guys know him, I think that helps with the transition. I've known since day one this was kind of the plan, and have been looking to move forward with it."
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