Goodnight and Good Luck – Andy Melachrino

Along with the announcement of the departure of Cameron Wynn was the news that popular forward Andy Melachrino will not be returning to the Bison for 2015/16.

Andy Melachrino won't be in Bison colours for 2015/16 as he chooses to step away from hockey. (c) 5 Hole Photography

Andy Melachrino won’t be in Bison colours for 2015/16 as he chooses to step away from hockey.
(c) 5 Hole Photography

What have we lost?

Melachrino was a forward with pace and flexibility. Able to play across the top three lines, Andy can play scoring forward or checking forward. He could do dump and chase or run and gun as he was told as well as being able to play on the powerplay or the penalty kill though he is better at the former than the later. His partnership with Tomas Karpov proved to be one that benefited both players. Karpov, always more of the natural centre and set up man had someone who had the pace and skating ability to keep up with him. Melachrino, more of the natural scorer of the two, had someone of skill to feed him the puck and he could do the rest. That partnership which has arguably been one of the most productive in recent Bison history is now lost and Sheppard now needs to find a replacement for that.

Where has he gone?

Like Cameron Wynn, Melachrino has opted to take some time away from the sport to focus on his career away from hockey.

Who replaces him?

In some ways there is no direct like for like replacement for Andy given the role that he played. Looking at who is signed for far, some of his role in the top 6 will fall to Shaun Thompson, some of his checking line role (and possibly any responsibility on the penalty kill) will fall to JJ Pitchley or Ralfs Circenis depending on who fits better. It’ll be something that’s not fully borne out until we see the Bison on the ice.

Final Thoughts:

As with Cameron’s departure, this is sad but understandable given the life of semi-professional British hockey players. There are things of greater value to deal with like day jobs and life away from the rink.

It is still a shame though given that on his day, Andy Melachrino was a great player at EPL level. How well he would have fared playing EIHL hockey remains to be seen but from a young player we once watched literally bounce off of Viktor Kubenko, Melachrino had turned into a legitimate top 6 EPIHL forward.

His previously mentioned partnership with Tomas Karpov, either combined with Michael Wales or Ciaran Long could make defences look downright foolish at time. A large chunk of that was down to just how well Karpov and Melachrino moved and how, for whatever reason, they just clicked. 2014/15 saw both lose on occasion lose form and fitness but they still had their moments together last season. We won’t get to see if the magic would have continued.

Melachrino was always a popular player with the fans be it for his scoring exploits or his ever popular mop of hair which only got some competition for “best flow” when Ryan Watt joined. The opinion on Melachrino’s skills seemed to really cover the gambit. Some felt he was under rated; never really getting the appreciation he deserved for the little things that he did to support his higher skilled team mate. Some felt he was over rated; that Andy’s upturn in numbers was solely due to him playing alongside Karpov and higher skilled players. I always personally fell somewhere in between both camps. It would be intellectually dishonest to argue that Karpov’s move to Basingstoke wasn’t partially responsible for Andy’s upturn in numbers but that’s not all the story and is unfair to the effort Melachrino put in. Being in the right place at the right time is key in hockey (see EPL Cup final 2nd leg) but you need to do all the hard work that comes to getting to that place at that time for it to be the right one.

Sadly, and for no doubt really good reasons, Andy has chosen to step back from hockey at this time. The hope is that he might be back in the sport one day.

Thanks for everything Andy, all the best for what you do off the ice.

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