THE BASINGSTOKE Bison have been dealt another bitter blow with the news that Andy Melachrino is set to be sidelined for over six weeks after suffering an upper body injury at Sheffield.
The 19-year-old had only just returned to the Herd from injury and looked very impressive last Saturday, playing alongside Doug Sheppard and Jaroslav Cesky.
He picked up an assist and was on the ice for three of five Bison goals in their 5-1 victory over Telford.
Then on Sunday a high hit in the second period against the Steeldogs saw him suffer a new injury and he will find out the full extent of it today.
This means the Bison now have three players – Melachrino, Kurt Reynolds and Jacob Corson-Heron – with long term injuries.
So it will be a depleted Herd that will face a double dose of derby action this weekend with the Slough Jets in town on Saturday (face-off 6.30pm) followed by a trip to Guildford for a top-of-the-table clash the following day (face-off 6pm).
So far this season the Bison have beaten the Jets three times and so the Herd can clinch the series victory on Saturday.
Standing in their way again will be two lethal imports, Frantisek Bakrlik and Darius Pliskauskas, and the Jets are currently enjoying a three-game winning streak.
Adding extra spice to the game is the arrival of former Bison forward Ciaran Long, who left Manchester at the weekend.
Looking ahead to the clash, Sheppard said: “We will be short of bodies, but I am sure everyone will step up to the plate.
“Slough have some dangerous snipers and we have to keep those guys in check. The second part of the Bison’s big weekend will see them travel to Spectrum looking to break their losing streak in the Surrey rink.
The Guildford side took over leadership of the English Premier League from the Bison at the beginning of the year and after the Herd’s penalty shot loss in Sheffield last Sunday they have a one point advantage going into this weekend.
The Flames are in red hot form at the moment, having lost just once in their last 17 games, which was against Basingstoke.
Before they lock horns with the Herd, the Surrey side face a tough Saturday trip to third placed Manchester Phoenix, where they lost in overtime back in October.
Sheppard is going into Guildford looking for two points and said: “They are on a great run at the moment, but we will go there looking to get a result and if we play as we can, there is no reason to think otherwise.”