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Ice Hockey: Statue of Liberty image cleared for U.S. helmets

By Dan Burns

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (Reuters) - Two U.S. goaltenders are free to take to the ice on Tuesday with images of the Statue of Liberty on their helmets after a misunderstanding about whether they violated an Olympic ban on political symbols.

USA Hockey and the International Olympic Committee said the helmets worn by Nicole Hensley and Alex Rigsby do not require alterations.

"Masks are approved," USA Hockey spokeswoman Andrea Mazzarelli said in an email. "No modifications needed."

An IOC spokesman said: "It seems to have been a misunderstanding, we have not asked for the symbol to be removed."

It was not clear whether either Hensley or Rigsby will play in Tuesday's preliminary round game between the U.S. and the Olympic Athletes from Russia. U.S. head coach Robb Stauber has not yet named his starting netminder.

Maddie Rooney started Sunday's opener against Finland, which the U.S. won 3-1.

IOC rules state that "no form of publicity or propaganda, commercial or otherwise, may appear on persons, on sportswear, accessories or, more generally, on any article of clothing or equipment whatsoever worn or used by the athletes or other participants in the Olympic Games".

It is not the first time a question has been raised about symbols on a U.S. goaltender's mask. At the 2010 Vancouver Games American men's goalie Ryan Miller was required to cover up the words "Miller Time" on his mask.

The phrase "It's Miller Time" is a trademark of MillerCoors, a unit of Molson Coors Brewing Co, and has long been used to promote the Miller High Life and Miller Lite beer brands.

(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohman, editing by Ed Osmond)