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3 in goal for US compete on ice, friends off of it

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 16, 2014 at 11:05 am •  Published: February 16, 2014

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Everyone is happy in Goalie World.

U.S. goaltender Jesse Vetter helped the United States earn a spot in the Olympic women's hockey semifinals with two wins in the round-robin. Backup Molly Schaus pitched in by shutting out Switzerland, but will be back on the bench for Monday's semifinal against Switzerland.

And No. 3 goalie Brianne McLaughlin might just have the hardest job of all: maintaining a good attitude, supporting her friends and staying ready even though she's yet to play at the Sochi Games.

"We've been fortunate enough to be teammates for six years. We've developed a friendship," Schaus said. "Obviously, everyone wants to play and everyone wants to be that person. ... But you get to put on this jersey, and you do it with pride, and you want to win. So you do whatever the team needs to be successful."

Like any collection of all-stars, the U.S. Olympic women's hockey team brings together players who were standouts on their previous teams and forces them into a new role. And for the goalies, the change is dramatic: An athlete accustomed to playing virtually every minute of every game might not play at all, instead sitting on the bench, working the door during player changes and just being ready in case of injury or calamity.

"It's different, for sure," said McLaughlin, who was also the No. 3 goalie, backing up Vetter and Schaus, on the U.S. team that won the silver medal in Vancouver. "You have your days, but the fact that the three of us get along make it better."

McLaughlin has a good enough resume to start for almost any other women's hockey team in the world, setting an NCAA record with 3,809 saves at Robert Morris College in Ohio.

But in the United States — which, along with Canada, is one of the two true powers in women's hockey — the competition is fierce.

Vetter was a three-time NCAA champion at Wisconsin — the Badgers lost in the title game her junior year — who won the 2009 Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in college hockey. In her first year in college, she posted back to back shutouts in the Frozen Four and was the first freshman and first goalie to be named the tournament's outstanding player.

Schaus was a two-time finalist for the Kazmaier Award when she was at Boston College and was the 2012 Goalie of the Year in the professional Canadian Women's Hockey League.

But she has only managed to get in one game so far in Sochi, just like she did in Vancouver.

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