Building the Herd – Andy Melachrino

#?? Andy Melachrino

Position: Forward

Born: Guildford, Surrey

Announced as signed: Basingstoke Gazette, 20th June

 

After last week’s triple whammy of signings, Doug Sheppard has gone easy on the writing community this week by just announcing the one player and it’s a popular returnee in the shape of Andy Melachrino.

The Guildford born forward returns for his second season in Bison colours after a disjointed 2012/13. After a good start and selection to the GB under 20s, Melachrino developed a shoulder injury, came back but his shoulder forced him out again for the end of the season limiting him to 28 games with 3 goals and 2 assists for 5 points with 12 PIMs.

Melachrino, now 20 came up through the Guildford junior system first playing for the under 16 Firestars squad in 2007/08 when he scored 27 points in 15 games. He returned to the Firestars for 07/08 scoring 35 points in 15 games whilst also getting his debut for the under 18 Phoenix where he tallied 16 points in 13 games. Andy then spent the next 2 seasons split between the under 18s and EPL. 2009/10 saw Melachrino given his EPL debut by the Flames as he dressed for 10 games and scored his debut EPL goal alongside his 23 points in 12 appearances for the Phoenix. 2010/11 was a banner year at u18 level as Melachrino scored 46 points in 15 games alongside the 34 games he dressed at EPL level.

For 2011/12, Melachrino left Guildford for Slough where he started the season with the ENL Jets before spending the majority of the time with the EPL Jets. He went over a point per game at ENL level scoring 18 points in 15 games and 3 points in 35 EPL contests with the Jets having forced his way into the team before Doug Sheppard coaxed him to Hampshire.

At international level, Melachrino has represented GB at under 18 level in 2010 scoring 2 points in 4 games and u20 level in 2011 and 2012 for combined totals of 3 points in 9 games. He was the most penalized player at the 2011 division 1A world championships as he managed to pick up 27 PIMs in 5 games.

When you look down all the injuries the Bison had at one stage or another, people generally talk about one person; Kurt Reynolds. It’s understandable to some degree, he’s arguably the team’s best player but the injury to Andy Melachrino also had a big impact, just not as much of an obvious one. His shoulder injury that was misdiagnosed so he sat out, came back and made it worse, meant we lost some much needed depth up front. The end of the season saw Sheppard overplaying his imports, himself and the top end Brits like Greener and Owen. We desperately needed someone like Melachrino in that mix for many reasons, not just to rest the “higher end” guys.

Andy Melachrino is a good hockey player. He’s also really fun to watch into the bargain; he is tough, he’s speedy, he can do a little bit of everything that’s required of him. He can play on that grind line and go into the corners or he can play second line as a speedy winger who will go to the front of the net. He’s a really good, solid, all round forward who can do what is asked of him. I’ve told the story of him playing for Slough against the Bison till the cows come home; his tenacity makes things happen as well. He keeps going and keeps going, gets knocked down, gets up and keeps going.

The question I suppose is how does Melachrino push on from his current position. Whilst the piece in today’s Basingstoke Gazette mentions a possible link up with Rand and Miller, I have Rand and Miller with another import and Melachrino and Connolly in a toss up for second line wing duty. The edge goes to Connolly but only because the combination of Aaron with Sheppard and Greener worked so well in Slough that you have to think they’ll try it again. The door however is very much open for Melachrino, Connolly, Chinn, Mogg and Wynn to be used higher up the order depending on situation and performance but that is surely the point as we return to Sheppard’s new mantra, depth. Melachrino’s speed would hopefully see him getting some decent penalty kill time and that’s where a link up with Miller or Rand would be the most likely; any 2 of those three would be a good defensive combination with adequate speed for the break out and forecheck.

The really important thing for Andy is that his shoulder has healed and he can stay injury free. Like Reynolds he missed about half a season as a result of being on the shelf and you’d hope he’s chomping at the bit to get back out there and prove a point.

Welcome back, Andy. Here’s to an injury free season.

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