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22 January 2007
SARAH MARTINELLI: What sort of game is it where you have to face a frozen rubber disc flying at you at up to 160 kilometres per hour?
That's right. Ice hockey's been around for 130 years, only men played it for about the first 80 years. It's a sport of speed, grace, and a little bit of violence thrown in!
European immigrants took similar versions of hockey-like games to North America, such as the Scottish sport of shinty and the Irish sport of hurling. In the early game people played hockey on frozen rivers, lakes, and ponds using cheese cutters strapped to their boots, and early paintings show hockey being played in Nova Scotia, a part of Canada. These days ice hockey is the national sport of Canada. But there's a national league here in Australia too.
These 17 and 18-year-old ice hockey players recently competed for Australia in the European country of Lithuania. They played against Great Britain, Croatia, Mexico, Iceland and Lithuania. They came home with the bronze medal!
JARRAD: It was a very proud moment, very honoured to represent your country, makes you feel very good.
SARAH MARTINELLI: I've been wanting to do a story on ice hockey for ages, so I thought I'd give it a go, with the help of these guys. But before I can step out on to the ice, let's find out the rules.
SEAN: It's a simple 5 on 5 game, played, it's just like soccer but on the ice. The way to score would be to come down, have options like in soccer on either side, behind the net and stuff like that coming in for a shot.
SARAH MARTINELLI: That thing they hit into goal is called the puck, and it was first used instead of a ball in 1860
The interesting thing about the puck is that it is made of rubber, and frozen before a game, so it doesn't bounce too much on the ice. It weighs about 170 grams, about the same as a can of baked beans, so if you get hit with it, you know all about it!
And that's what all the padding is for.
DAVID: Well it starts off with the headgear, and if you're under 21 you have to wear facemasks, made of metal, shoulder pads, there's alslo chest protection, back protection and then it goes down to your elbow guards, then gloves of course protect your hands, then you got padded shorts and that also offers a bit of lower back protection, shinpads on both legs, like thick plastic with padding behind them, and they strap to your leg.
SARAH MARTINELLI: Amazingly, helmets only became compulsory in the 1970s. This game shows players in the 60s, while they still used padding, as you can see, no-one was protecting their faces!
Time to have a go. I'll just put the gear on.
It's harder than it looks!