The Fourth Line

In my opinion, there is no more important part of a successful team than a strong and confident fourth line. Take a look at the best teams in college hockey over the past few years – they all have fourth lines that make an impact. The players in these positions may not be the most glamorous or well known, but I believe that they are often the most vital to winning championships.

Every team in hockey is going to have a first line. The high end skill players that can make an impact on the scoresheet. The most talented offensive players that can be relied upon to help score goals on a regular basis. What every team doesn’t have and that often sets the best apart from the rest is a good fourth line.

What constitutes a good fourth line? A good fourth line is a line that can play smart, responsible hockey in both ends of the rink. These players have a physical presence and an engine that never quits. They are flexible, adaptable and always ready to give their all for the team. Fourth lines take care of their roles and responsibilities first and are able to contribute to the scoresheet whenever possible. A valuable fourth line is a coach’s dream, as coaches can use these players in a variety of scenarios – from the first line out after special teams to valuable  minutes against any group.

This season at Amherst College, we had a fourth line that score 12% of our goals on the season. They were also relied upon to play important minutes after special teams situations and trusted to play at any point during the game. One player said about his teammates, “They were a major reason for our success – they gave us important shifts throughout the season and helped my line by giving us the rest we needed to be successful.” Our team was often referred to as “relentless” by opposing coaches. Being able to put out four lines that would give 100% and push the other team every shift was a major part of that “relentlessness”.

The best teams in hockey are complete teams. They rely on each other at different points throughout the season to be successful. Complete teams win championships.

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