By Frank Pingue
SOCHI, Russia, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Unlike many ice hockey goalies, Team USA's Jessie Vetter says she is not superstitious, which is probably a good thing since the 13th shot she faced in her team's opener at the Sochi Games spoiled her shutout bid.
Vetter was barely tested in the United States's 3-1 win over Finland on Saturday but after turning aside 12 shots and looking headed for a shutout, she got beat with under five minutes left.
"I didn't know that, but that might be something right there," Vetter joked. "That's bad luck."
Following a turnover deep in the U.S. zone, Finland's Michelle Karvinen lasered a pass from the corner to Susanna Tapani, who jammed the puck home before Vetter could slide across the crease.
The powerplay goal gave Finland hopes of making a comeback but Vetter, sporting a new golden Olympic mask, easily turned aside the next two shots she faced as the U.S. opened the eight-team women's tournament with a routine victory.
Vetter may not have been tested often during the game, but she had to be at her best early as Finland's first shot of the 2014 Sochi Olympics came on a breakaway.
"Any goaltender that comes into the game hopes for a long shot or something not as challenging for a first shot, so to come away with a breakaway is never easy," said Vetter, a 2010 silver medallist.
"But at the same time you just got to be ready to go and whatever comes at you you got to make the saves and keep the puck out of the net."
While the U.S. are overwhelming favourites to reach the gold medal game on Feb. 20, Vetter was already sporting some of the shiny stuff as the mask she had designed for the 2014 Games has 23-carat gold leafing.
Her initial design had contained the U.S. Constitution's famous opening line, "We The People" and other text from the historic document.
But she had to change the design because of an International Olympic Committee rule that bans advertising, demonstration, and/or propaganda on an athlete's equipment.
Vetter made adjustments and the designer surprised her with a golden touch.
"He snuck that in there so it's a special little something," said Vetter. "Hey, maybe it's good luck." (Editing by Ed Osmond)