Noel McLoughlin was the goalie in Australia’s first Olympic Ice Hockey team that competed at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games in the USA.
Prior to the Olympic competition, McLoughlin had never used or even seen a face mask before, but after standing in front of the net against the USA, he made sure he got one. Later her said it was a miracle he didn't wear a puck in the face.
The Olympics were a David and Goliath battle for the Aussie team, who were actually at their peak in 1956 but a shortfall in funds meant that they had to wait until 1960 for an invitation and financial help from the Americans to get there.
The Australian team mainly comprised tradesmen who had gravitated to suburban ice rinks in search of entertainment after World War II. All the players except Sydneysider Rob Dewhurst were from Victoria, and they competed in one of Australia's few ice-hockey leagues - practicing for an hour a week at the St Moritz rink in St Kilda.
The team arrived with just a couple of days before competition, with no time to acclimatise to the Valley which was 1500m above sea level. The rarefied air, fast ice and the fact that all players were amateurs in the true sense of the word, meant that they had a difficult tournament ahead.