Building the Herd – Andy Melachrino

#9 Andy Melachrino

Position: Forward

Born: Guildford, Surrey

Announced as signed: Bison season ticket night, 4th June

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

The middle announcement from the signing night from Bison coach Doug Sheppard was the return of arguably the team’s breakout star of 2013/14, Andy Melachrino.

The 20 year old Surrey born forward came through the Guildford junior system and was a star at under 16 and 18 level with the Firestars and Phoenix respectively, averaging over 2 points per game at under 18 level.

Melachrino made his debut with the Flames in 2009/10 season where he appeared in 10 contests and scored a goal to make his first point in senior hockey as well as playing for the Phoenix.

Andy appeared in more contests in 2010/11 for the Flames, dressing 34 times with no points as well as having a massive year at under 18s where he scored 31 goals and 46 points in just 15 games.

For 2011/12, Andy moved away from the Spectrum to Slough where he split his time between the ENL and EPL squads. ENL was profitable for Andy as he scored 11 goals and 18 points in 15 games. The majority of his time however was spent with the EPL squad where he was used in less of a scoring role but impressed audiences with his tenacity, scoring 3 points in 35 games in a season where the Jets won the playoffs.

When Doug Sheppard headed to Basingstoke, Melachrino followed and whilst impressing in the 2012/13 campaign, it was an injury hit one for Andy as he only managed 28 games and 5 points.

A return to fitness came in 2013/14 and Melachrino had the finest season of his young career. Partnered with the free scoring Tomas Karpov (more on him tomorrow) and Michael Wales following his arrival from Slough, the MKM line caused havoc for defences across the league. The combination saw Melachrino grow in confidence as he had scored 23 goals in all competitions last season and an impressive 19 goals and 17 assists for 36 points in the league. However his season will best be remembered for his tip in goal late in the second leg of the EPL Cup final against Milton Keynes that sealed the Bison’s first bit of silverware in over a decade.

Andy also appeared for Great Britain at junior level, with 4 caps at under 18s and 9 at under 20s level.

(c) 5 Hole Photography

(c) 5 Hole Photography

I suppose we should tackle the elephant in the room head on, shouldn’t we;

The only reason Andy Melachrino had such a good year was he played alongside Tomas Karpov.

No, one of the reasons Andy had a good year was playing alongside a player of Karpov’s quality but to say it is the only reason is both lazy and inaccurate.

Yes playing alongside a player that is that step above is massively helpful (even I might have managed at least 10 points on a line with Karpov and I can’t skate backwards and originally thought a crossover was a country dancing move) but to totally discount the skills set of Melachrino is, simply put, a load of crap.

Watching him across the season there were three stages of Andy’s game;

The first was the feeling out stage where everybody got used to their linemates and the partnerships were formed. Melachrino was put together with Karpov very early on in training (according to Tomas) and it clearly worked so they stuck with it. The second was the drawing out stage where they got into their rhythm, the MKM line was formed when Muzzy arrived and Andy’s confidence grew because he was in a situation that suited his game. The final stage was the breaking out stage where his confidence was so high that he trusted his game, his teammates trusted his abilities and he was a potent threat in his own right, probably best exemplified by his goal in the first leg of the EPL Cup final in Coventry which was a fine solo effort that might not have been possible from him a year ago not because he didn’t have that shot in his locker but he might not have been playing in that situation.

I’ve made no secret on here that I’ve always liked Melachrino as a player from the moment he was playing for Slough and decided to start taking runs at Viktor Kubenko. That urgency and enthusiasm to his game was there as a younger player in the EPL, it’s why players like Cam Wynn and Danny Ingoldsby have been so popular in Basingstoke. What we saw this season at EPL level from Andy was what’s always been waiting to come out; that free scoring game he exhibited at junior and NIHL level. Andy’s nearly 21, under 18s isn’t exactly a long time ago. It’s not like the high tempo, high speed, high energy style he had at lower levels vanished. He was learning how to play at this level and some decent coaching and the right linemates have allowed that skills set to come to the fore. Whilst it’s a breakout year for him, going from 5 points to 40 points and 20 goals in a season can’t be considered much else, the fact it’s happened shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise.

The trick now is continuing that and establishing himself as a premier, point per game Brit at this level and become an option for EIHL level sides. He certainly is being given the tools and the opportunity to shine. It’s now about making good on it.

Welcome back, Andy.


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