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Fourth line gives Bobcat lineup added intensity
Every ice hockey team’s fourth line is typically composed of the more physical players on the squad. Commonly referred to as grinders, these players are known for being pests, fighting for pucks on the boards, and bringing out the checking nature of the game.
Yet, for the Quinnipiac men’s ice hockey team, their fourth line accomplishes all of the above, with one extra incentive that other fourth lines cannot offer: they can score goals and rack up assists.
Senior Kevin Bui and junior Cory Hibbeler have spent the majority of their 2012-13 season playing on the fourth line, totaling five goals and 15 points between the pair. The two have also registered plus/minuses of +6 and +9, respectively.
“Everybody knows their role on this team,” Bui said. “The biggest thing is us playing at pace. We want to set the tone. We play a very physical, gritty type of game. We wear teams down, and it’s frustrating for them to play against us.”
Last season, Bui saw limited ice time, playing in just 15 games and recording three points. This season, however, Bui has played in 21 of Quinnipiac’s 30 games, with four additional opportunities down the stretch against Yale and Dartmouth, among others.
Hibbeler is also enjoying a more productive season than in years past. In 2011-12, Hibbeler notched eight points in 37 games. Yet, in his junior year, Hibbeler already has nine points through 24 games, including the game-tying goal in the Feb. 2 contest at Yale.
“It’s nice when you have a good third and fourth line to go out there and give your first and second line a break,” Hibbeler said. “We’ve been putting up points too, which is an added bonus. We’re going to try and keep that going for the rest of the year.”
In addition, a selection of freshmen have filled the rotating third spot on the fourth line this season. One notable name is Zach Luczyk, who has tallied four assists in 10 games this season. Another key piece has been Soren Jonzzon. Jonzzon, who scored his first career goal Feb. 9 at Colgate, has seen ice time in two of Quinnipiac’s past three contests after being sidelined since Nov. 6.
“It was exciting that in my third game, I was able to help the team,” Jonzzon said. “Everyone wants to get in the lineup, and I got the opportunity. The bench might have been a little more excited than I was [after scoring his first goal]. It was awesome, a real cool feeling.”
Looking toward the depth of the team, Hibbeler believes the flexibility of the fourth line has been crucial to Quinnipiac’s success.
“Guys have stepped in, like Luczyk and Soren who haven’t played every game,” Hibbeler said. “They come in, they play hard, and been doing the little things. We’ve been playing pretty well, and doing what we need to do. Hopefully we can keep that up for the rest of the year.”