BC women upset Duke

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BC women upset Duke

Associated PressBOSTON -- Another big upset for Scott Brown's family.Just a few hours after her father wassworn in as the newest member of the U.S. Senate, Ayla Brown helpedBoston College knock off sixth-ranked Duke 61-57 on Thursday night."He sent me a text message before thegame saying, 'I wanted to be at the game, but I'm so proud of you. Winit for me,'" Ayla Brown, a backup forward on the Eagles and a formerAmerican Idol contestant, told The Associated Press. "And that's whatwe did."Carolyn Swords scored 14 points andadded nine rebounds for BC (13-10, 4-4 Atlantic Coast Conference),going 8 for 8 from the line in the final 5 minutes. It was the Eagles'first victory over a ranked team since beating then-No. 2 Ohio State inthe second round of the 2006 NCAA tournament.Jasmine Thomas scored 19 points for Duke (18-4, 6-1), which has spent 200 straight weeks in the AP Top 25."It only takes one game like this toturn our team around in terms of our confidence level," BC coach SylviaCrawley said. "Until that happens, you're always intimidated by thoseteams. This is huge for this team. A mindset is a hard thing to change.I think they are coming around in terms of believing in what we'redoing."Brown scored six points, making a keybasket midway through the second half after Duke went ahead 41-38 tomatch its biggest lead of the game. Swords hit a pair of free throws togive BC the lead, and though the game remained close the Eagles nevertrailed again.Swords went 10 for 10 from the linein all, and BC made 20 of 21 free throws in the game as they foughtback the Blue Devil's attempt at a comeback."If we're going to be a special team, we've got a long way to go," Duke coach Joanne McCallie said.Scott Brown, a former state senator,overcame a double-digit deficit in the polls to stun Democrat MarthaCoakley and win the seat that had been held by Ted Kennedy for almost50 years. At a Capitol Hill ceremony on Thursday, Vice President JoeBiden swore him in as the Senate's 41st Republican - giving the GOP thevote they need to filibuster Democratic initiatives.So, which was the bigger upset?"I think Brown over Coakley is abigger upset, because that's for the state of Massachusetts," said AylaBrown, who had an active role in the campaign. "But in my eyes, this isthe biggest upset I've ever experienced in my basketball career."And that even made it worth missing her dad's big day."Obviously, I wish I was there,"Ayla Brown said. "But at the same time, I have a job to do. That's whyI stayed behind, and he understood."It was the second straight victoryfor BC, which beat Miami on Sunday after losing its previous fourgames. The Blue Devils had won four straight since losing to top-rankedConnecticut 81-48, but they've played just two games in the past 11days.The rust showed early.Duke fell behind 7-0 but the gamewas tied 30-all at halftime and the Blue Devils opened a 41-38 leadbefore Brown's jumper and Swords free throws to give the Eagles thelead. Duke tied it one last time when Thomas came out of a timeout andhit a floating jumper from the side of the key to make it 55-alll with59 seconds left.But Brittanny Johnson made a pair offree throws and then Swords - shaking off a timeout called to ice her -did the same. By the time Bridgette Mitchell's basket brought Dukewithin two points, there were only three seconds left.After Picco's foul shots iced it andthe last second ticked off the clock, the BC players ran to the centerof the court to celebrate.

Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

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Acciari glad to be back with B's after missing a month

BOSTON -- Noel Acciari missed a month of game action with a lower body injury, so it would have been perfectly acceptable to show plenty of rust in his game upon returning to the Boston lineup.

But the former Providence College standout didn’t look rusty, a step behind or out of place in any way as he played the fourth line energy forward role to a perfect fit after missing the last 13 games. Acciari did get in one game with the Providence Bruins prior to suiting back up for the Black and Gold on Saturday, and perhaps that helped him manufacture a couple of shots on net to go along with three thumping hits against the Maple Leafs.

The 25-year-old Acciari didn’t factor into the scoring at all for the Bruins, but that’s just as well given that his focus should be on killing penalties, being hard to play against and taking the body whenever the chance presents itself. Claude Julien reformed the B’s energy line that had so much success earlier in the season with Acciari, Dominic Moore and Tim Schaller, and didn’t hesitate tossing them back into the mix together while looking for energy and a spark for an offensively stunted team.

“It’s good to be back with my linemates, and you know, I think we kind of picked up where we left off, but there’s definitely things we need to work on. That’ll come with a couple more practices and games together,” said Acciari, who finished theSaturday loss with three registered hits packed into 11:35 of ice time. “Kind of getting back to our familiarity and kind of get back to where we were before I got injured.

“It was a good start tonight, but we definitely just weren’t clicking like we used to, but that’ll come. I think that will come. Like I said, a couple practices and just kind of getting some games in [are good things]. I thought we were pretty good tonight, but, you know, should get more pucks to score [goals].”

Clearly there is room for improvement for everybody including Acciari, but it was encouraging to see the fearless competitor again flying around on the TD Garden ice playing high intensity hockey for a fourth line that could use every little bit of that. 

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

Backes: "Offensive frustration is warranted at this point"

BOSTON -- This may not come as a surprise, but the Boston Bruins are having some trouble putting the puck in the net.

Despite outshooting the Maple Leafs by an 11-2 margin in the first period and outshooting them by a 32-21 margin over the balance of the 60 minute game, the Bruins scratched for just a single goal in a frustrating, constipated 4-1 loss to Toronto at TD Garden. Clearly some of the offensive difficulty was caused by a solid Frederik Andersen, who improved to 6-0-0 in a career against Boston that’s beginning to take on Bruins Killer proportions.

But a great deal of the B’s struggles to finish scoring chances on Saturday night is a malady that’s dogged the Bruins all season, and marked the 20th time in 29 games this year that Boston has scored two goals or less. In most of these games the Bruins have dominated puck possession and outshot their opponents, but still have come away mostly empty handed in the goals scored department while dropping deep in the bottom third of NHL offenses this season.

“It seems like every game we’re out-chancing teams, but we don’t outscore teams. That’s where the biggest issue is right now. Our scoring is not there and if you don’t score goals you don’t win hockey games,” said Claude Julien. “Because of that we criticize everything else in our game, but our game isn’t that bad.

“If we were scoring goals people would love our game right now, but that’s the biggest part. There’s not much more I can say here except for the fact that if we don’t score goals it’s going to be hard to win hockey games.”

But the Bruins aren’t scoring goals consistently, their power play is below average while trending in the wrong direction and the team has been forced to watch steady offensive players like Patrice Bergeron suddenly slump in a concerning way. Clearly David Pastrnak is doing his part with 18 goals scored this season in 24 games, and others like Brad Marchand and Dominic Moore have also performed above, or beyond, their acceptable level of play.

But there are other players failing with the chance to make an offensive dent: Austin Czarnik has been on the roster for nearly two months, and has zero goals and two points in his last 15 games as the offense is again dried up on the third line. He missed wide on a shorthanded chance in the third period after a Moore centering pass set up him all alone in front, and was critiquing himself for fanning on a perfect dish to him in the slot.

Moments later the Leafs had an insurance score from James van Riemsdyk to make it a 3-1 game, and it was all over for the Black and Gold at that point.

Czarnik is an easy target because he’s young and inexperienced, but there is more than enough struggle and frustration to go around with a bunch of offensive players that can’t seem to get out of their own way. David Backes admitted it’s reached a point where the Bruins are frustrated when they can’t score enough to beat a team like Toronto, and that it falls squarely on the lead guys in the Black and Gold dressing room that are underperforming.

“I think offensive frustration is warranted at this point; we just haven’t done a good enough job scoring goals. We played a heck of a first period. We limited them to two shots and we had an opportunity to have a team that’s coming in here that’s a younger team, to really put them behind the eight ball,” said Backes. “Instead, they think they got a second lease on life and they were able to capitalize. All of the sudden, they were up 2-0 and we’re fighting an uphill battle again rather than -- we have that opportunity to play a heck of a first period and we don’t find a way – it’s easy to talk about, but it’s going out there and doing the job and putting it past or through the goalie, or however it needs to happen. “You’ve seen our goals; you want to do a study on it unless you’re Pasta [David Pastrnak] with the one-timer on the side, it’s been ugly, it’s been rebounds, it’s been greasy goals and that’s our equation and we need more of it, and we didn’t do it. They did a good job of being in front of their net and boxing out, eliminating those second chances. But, we’ve got good players in here that need to create more and find those second chances and win those battles, find those loose pucks, and throw them in the net.”

The Bruins have been talking seemingly all season about the need to get to the “dirty areas in the offensive zone”, and for players to jump all over the second and third chance opportunities currently going by the board unchallenged on goalie rebounds.

Now it’s about speaking with action for the B’s, and more specifically speaking volumes with goals and offensive finish instead of “chances” that aren’t doing much of anything if they’re not being snapped into the back of the net.