Capitals

O'Brien, Penn State continue to roll on the road

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O'Brien, Penn State continue to roll on the road

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Somehow, some way, there's no letdown for Penn State away from Happy Valley.

Three Big Ten games away from home, three blowouts.

But after scoring big wins at Illinois, Iowa and plunging Purdue on the road, the surprising Nittany Lions will encounter their biggest road test of the season Saturday with a trip to No. 18 Nebraska.

``We've been playing well on the road I'd say because it just eliminates the distractions for us,'' linebacker Michael Mauti said Tuesday. ``Because all we need are the guys on the bus and the guys in the locker room.

``We create our own energy.''

Distractions have been plentiful for Penn State (6-3, 4-1) over the past year. It's a year to the week that a child sex abuse scandal was ignited by the arrest of ex-assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, plunging one of the country's marquee football programs into turmoil.

But the resulting NCAA sanctions from the scandal haven't dampened the team's enthusiasm.

If anything, first-year coach Bill O'Brien has his team even more motivated to play every Saturday - even though both a conference title and bowl bid are out of reach. One of O'Brien's favorite sayings this year is ``Every game is a big game.''

``Some games we always wish that we could have back. We wish we could have coached better, played better, but when you have 12 opportunities, every single game is a big game,'' O'Brien said. ``This game is no bigger than any other game; it's just another big game, against a very, very good team.''

The Nittany Lions are still eligible to win the Leaders Division title, though those hopes took a serious hit with the 35-23 loss two weeks ago to No. 5 Ohio State.

But Penn State bounced back last week with a 34-9 win over Purdue. If anything, the off-the-field stress of the last year has helped train Penn State to stay focused on what they can control - what happens on the field.

``It doesn't matter what goes on around you,'' Mauti said. ``It's all about staying focused and ignoring the things that don't have to do with football.''

Mauti is the heart of a staunch defense that has had strong play all year from the front seven. Penn State, though, may not have standout defensive tackle Jordan Hill, who is listed as day-to-day with a left knee injury suffered against Purdue.

Mauti said Hill was feeling well and that the tackle was ``itching to play'' in what would be the last collegiate road game for Mauti, Hill and the other Penn State seniors. O'Brien said a final determination would be made later in the week on whether Hill would be able to play at Nebraska.

For all the attention on the front seven this year, the secondary has gradually improved its play this year after getting picked apart early in the season on third downs.

The unit came up with perhaps its best performance of the year last week. Against the Boilermakers, cornerbacks Adrian Amos and Stephon Morris contained Purdue's screen game with sure, open-field tackling, backed by safeties Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong.

It looks like ``Linebacker U'' is pretty comfortable now with the more aggressive schemes introduced by veteran defensive coordinator Ted Roof, in his first season at Penn State.

``I wouldn't say it took me a long time to learn the schemes, but it took me a while to get comfortable with the defense,'' said Morris, who was moved from the boundary cornerback spot to the field corner spot in the offseason.

The defense needs to be at its best to win at Nebraska, a site that figures to have a much different atmosphere than the ones encountered by Penn State at struggling Illinois and Purdue.

Either way, all three Big Ten road wins this season have been by at least 23 points. The key in each case has been Penn State's ability to jump out to big leads that have dampened crowd enthusiasm by halftime.

``Nebraska-Penn State, that's what college football is all about,'' O'Brien said. ``You have two big-time college football programs that have two good coaching staffs and a lot of good players playing in a great game in Lincoln. That atmosphere, hopefully it's fun.''

It will be even more fun for the Nittany Lions if they're able to fly back home Saturday night celebrating another `W.''

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NOTES: O'Brien said TE Kyle Carter is day-to-day. Carter, Penn State's second leading receiver with 35 catches and 441 yards, missed the win over Purdue after spraining his left ankle against Ohio State. Asked how involved Hill and Carter have been at practice, O'Brien would only say ``they've been able to do some things.'' ... Zack Zwinak had his third 100-yard game of the season after rushing for 134 on 21 carries against the Boilermakers. And he is now listed atop the tailback depth chart along with Bill Belton, who started this year as the starting tailback but was slowed by an ankle injury. O'Brien said the competition for carries is still week-to-week depending on who does well in practice. ``Everything you get is earned,'' O'Brien said. `` It's earned on the practice field.'' ... Backup RB Curtis Dukes is out with an undisclosed head injury. The junior was hurt while covering the opening kickoff last week.

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Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

Capitals re-sign forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract

WASHINGTON — The Capitals bolstered their forward depth and its penalty kill by re-signing two-time Stanley Cup champion Carl Hagelin before he hit unrestricted free agency next month. 

Washington has officially re-signed forward Carl Hagelin to a four-year, $11 million contract extension, a move that goes a long way toward re-establishing a third line that had some openings entering the offseason. 

Hagelin, 30, was a pending unrestricted free agent. Washington acquired him from the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 21 just four days before the NHL trade deadline. Hagelin played primarily on the third line – although injuries in the Stanley Cup playoffs pushed him onto the second line. 

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Hagelin had three goals and 11 assists in 20 regular-season games with the Capitals and became an instant staple on the penalty kill. His 47 minutes, six seconds on the PK in those 20 games were enough to rank sixth among all forwards on the team.

Traded twice last season, Hagelin had a total of five goals and 14 assists with the Capitals, Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins in 58 games. He had a sprained knee (medial collateral ligament) with Los Angeles that kept him out for 20 games.  

"[Hagelin] was a good fit,” Washington general manager Brian MacLellan said on April 26. “I thought he fit seamlessly from day one. Really liked him on the third line, the way we used him, we bumped him up obviously with the [T.J.] Oshie injury. Our PK got a lot better. Fits in well with his teammates. It's a really good fit for us, yes." 

The Penguins traded Hagelin to the Kings on Nov. 14. He was a key part of Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup winners in 2016 and 2017, which came at the expense of Washington in the playoffs each time. 

This was the last year of a four-year, $16 million deal that Hagelin signed with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015. He was always viewed as a likely trade chip for Los Angeles, which finished in last place in the Pacific Division and eventually flipped him to the Capitals. 

Even after the disappointing first-round Stanley Cup playoff loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, Hagelin said he was open to re-signing with the Capitals before he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. His signing follows the trade of defenseman Matt Niskanen on Friday. The NHL Draft is this coming weekend in Vancouver with more moves expected.   

“I liked the fact that I got a good look from the coaches,” Hagelin said on April 26 of his time with the Capitals. “I got to play with good players, I got to play in key situations. I felt comfortable here.”

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Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

Orioles welcome home military service member with surprise first pitch

The Orioles helped make one family's Father's Day a day that they will never forget. 

Specialist Addam Bostwick from Fort George G. Meade United States Army installation surprised his father, former Marine Stephen Bostwick, with a special ceremonial first pitch Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

Stephen, who is a four-year veteran of the US Marine Corps, was expecting an Orioles player to catch the first pitch, was shocked to see Addam, who had been deployed in Afghanistan for four months, surprised his father.

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