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On Friday, the Washington Capitals held a photoshoot for their annual dog calendar, benefitting Homeward Trails Animal Rescue. While we posted everything that was put up on social media that day by the Caps, we didn’t tell you that our very own Amanda Bowen went to the event and got her own photos.

And oh man, they are incredible.

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EightToFastToCatch getting a work in the slop

EightToFastToCatch getting a work in the slop (Photo: Anne Frederick / Maryland Million Ltd)

When we last left our four-legged equine hero, EightToFastToCatch, a local Thoroughbred named for Alex Ovechkin, he had just won the 2011 renewal of the Maryland Million Classic. Just ahead of puck drop against the Panthers at Verizon on Saturday, horsey Ovi will be looking to score his own hat trick, right up the road at Laurel Park.

Since 2011, ETFTC has had 19 races and found the winners’ circle 7 times, most notably with a repeat win in the 2013 Classic. Where was our coverage in those intervening years? Simple – in the 2012 Classic he ran 5th and we were so gripped by NHL lockout paralysis we could barely get out of bed, let alone play the races. I’m sure we have some other excuse for 2013… maybe we blame Oates, but that’s a bad horse pun.

Now an EIGHT year-old, this gelding (don’t ask!), is wrapping up his career, and has one more race on his schedule after today’s mile-and-an-EIGHTH Classic. And if his engine and the Racing Gods have their way, he’ll cross the finish line first on Saturday, ahead of his EIGHT rivals, and get his 3rd Classic win, a rare racing hat trick. The track odds-maker installed his as the prohibitive 3-5 favorite. It may not make dollars and sense to bet on him at such a low price, but we’re going to cheer for him just as loud (and obnoxiously) as we do his namesake.

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How The Horn Guy Made His 2014-15 Horn

The man behind the Capitals’ best-known cheer is simply known as The Horn Guy. Before every opening face-off, after a goal, or any time the Caps need a kick in the pants, Sam Wolk unleashes three blasts from the upper level of Verizon Center. The crowd responds with a hearty “Let’s! Go! Caps!” chant. You heard it on TV. You’ve probably participated in it. Sam is famous.

He has starred in a Caps commercial, he helps lead the Caps Road Crew, and– thanks to his regional hockey fame– has taken megapixels of photos with eager fans. But away from the rink, Wolk is a simple man who just so happens to be bursting with creativity. The Lead Coordinator for Direct Mail at FedEx Office and Print Services, Sam is also a talented, self-taught illustrator.

If you’ve spent a second near Sam at a game, you’ve certainly noticed his horns. Each is an elegant painted piece of art that Wolk invests hours upon hours painting before every season.

Wolk gave RMNB an inside look at process of painting his new noise device for 2014-15.

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Photo: @courtlaugh22

During Wednesday’s Capitals preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres, Courtney Laughlin, daughter of long-time Caps color commentator Craig Laughlin, announced that she is joining CSN Washington’s pre-game show, Caps Central.

Courtney will make her TV debut next Thursday before the Capitals home opener against the Montreal Canadiens.

I spoke to Courtney via email Wednesday night, and she explained her new role.

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Justin Peters New Caps Mask

Photo: Amanda Bowen

Recently, a lot of Washington Capitals masks designed by Swedish airbrush artist Dave Gunnarsson have looked similar (which is kind of hard to avoid when you do a million of these). Justin Peters‘ new mask is, um, not one of those.

“In junior [hockey], my nickname was Pete-Dawg,” Peters began as he showed off his new bucket to RMNB Saturday. “That’s the whole theme behind my mask. It’s a dog, obviously. It’s got the mean teeth and stuff.”

The mask, which features a dog’s mouth wide open with yellowed, bloody canine teeth surrounding the opening of the mask, includes subtle details like the Caps weagle and stars. On the bottom of the mask, Peters’ nickname is found in a script font with a weathered look.

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Photo: Tyler Lapeyre

Before the Washington Capitals played the Vancouver Canucks last October, Alex Ovechkin noticed a girl standing along the boards during warm-ups. The sign she held read, “All I want 4 my 16th birthday is a puck, Ovi.” The Russian machine obliged and tossed a puck over the glass. The moment was expertly photographed by Jonathan Hayward.

We wrote about the photo. The story went viral. It was even on Buzzfeed.

“The whole thing was pretty surreal,” Tyler Lapeyre, the Vancouver girl who caught the puck, explained to me in an interview on Sunday night. “Then to see the picture show up all over Facebook and Tumblr really made the moment more special. It was like the world realized how awesome the moment was for me!”

That tiny gesture wasn’t the only kind thing Ovechkin did for the young Canadian Caps fan.

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Photo: Mark Bradford/Wulos

At Friday’s Rookie Camp, Washington Capitals prospect Nathan Walker was asked what the reception was like in Australia after he became the first countryman ever to be drafted into the NHL.

“It wasn’t as big [a deal] as I guess I was expecting,” Walker said to the media, captured by Monumental Network. “As you know, hockey’s not as big down there. I wasn’t making front pages or anything like that. But yeah, I had a couple of gigs and a couple of photoshoots.”

When asked what his weirdest photoshoot experience was, Walker dropped the single best nugget of his young career.

“I wouldn’t say the weirdest one, but the best one was the one where I got to take photos with kangaroos and koalas,” Walker said with a big smile. “That was pretty cool. They were all hoppin’ around everywhere. It was pretty good.”

[Emphasis added because kangaroos "hoppin' around everywhere "demands to be emphasized.]

I needed to know moar. I needed to see moar. I tracked down Walker’s Australian representation and begged for proof.

Prepare for some of the greatest hockey photos ever to hockey: Aussie edition.

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On Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals held an open house at Verizon Center. John Walton hosted a chalk talk in the lower bowl while Verizon Center employees began creating the new ice sheet for next season behind him. On top of that, Caps rookie forward Evgeny Kuznetsov, who may challenge for will win the Calder Trophy next year, signed autographs for the adoring public.

As I hung out around the line forming to meet Kuznetsov, a fan that looked awfully darned familiar introduced himself to me. “Hi, I’m Max,” the teenager said with a big smile. “I’m from this!”

He then pointed to a 8×10”photo that landed on RMNB in late July.

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Photo: Chris Gordon

Last Saturday, I spoke to Baltimore Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy about a range of fun topics: baseball, pick-up trucks, Gettysburg, hockey, his own rehab, and why every time I saw him that weekend he was wielding a giant crossbow. Bundy, ranked the 12th best prospect in all of baseball by ESPN’s Keith Law, has a fascinating story, which I had the honor of documenting for The Washington Post.

You can read it here.

You are certainly familiar with Stephen Strasburg, the hard-throwing ace for the Washington Nationals who was drafted first overall in 2010. Bundy, the top high-school athlete of the 2011 draft (and who can lift an insane amount of weight), was drafted 4th overall by the Baltimore Orioles the very next year. They’ve had mirror abilities and mirror career trajectories since. Both starters could throw 100 MPH. Both were robbed of a season due to Tommy John surgery after breezing through the minors. Both were heaped with humangous big expectations from fans immediately after they were drafted.

Two years ago, Bundy became the 16th youngest player to make the Orioles. He pitched twice in relief. 2013 was supposed to be the year he joined the rotation and dominated. Instead, he blew out his elbow in spring training.

After a year of rehab, Bundy returned to the mound with the Aberdeen Ironbirds in early June. A few weeks ago he was promoted to the Single-A Frederick Keys. While his velocity has not been the same, if all goes well, he could potentially join the Orioles down the stretch as they make their final push for the playoffs in September.

Below is the full transcript of our conversation.

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