Join us in a look back at Maltese Sports brought to you by the man who made it all possible, Philip Maltese.

The roots of Maltese Sports began to sprout In 1997. It was my third product idea that seemed to make the most sense, but also the most daunting; An "unbreakable" goalie stick. While getting ready for a men's league game, I needed a stick. I went to the pro shop and selected one by price and appearance. How else was one to do it? The maker of the stick was not as important as the reaction of the pro shop. I made my purchase and went on the ice for warm-ups. The First shot faced broke the blade, and now I was back to square one. I took the stick back to the pro shop to told them I wanted my money back. They laughed, and I fumed. It was then that I resolved to make a stick that could be consistent, as in no matter which one you selected it would be identical to the others, so you could never make a bad selection. I wanted it to last longer than any of the sticks in the rack and be the best stick on the market. After a straw poll it seemed to me that people were willing to pay more for a stick if those features I described did exist.

As a goalie playing the sport I ran into another issue as a customer. The padding in my mask just up and fell out. I tried to glue it back in place, but the material had "shrunk" or "condensed". What was originally soft had become hard as a result of time and use. The padding had its own shape now and it didn't want to return to its shell. Not to mention it smelled very much like feline urine and I'm pretty sure it wasn't me making it smell that way. I did a little checking and it turns out that the padding in question was made from a by-product of urine, called urea. Disgusted, I searched for alternatives. I don't think it took me long before I got the idea for gel as padding.

Having no previous experience doing anything product related, I brought my sister Robin in to draw for me what was conceived in my head. I borrowed some of my design from the padding that fell out of my mask, and Robin drew the pieces up for me and I sent them to what would eventually be my first gel supplier. Thankfully, my point of contact there was a very good man who was very helpful and supportive to us. We scratched together the money needed to make prototype dies and I eagerly awaited their completion and arrival. There was one issue that I could not get around or change and that was the thickness of my pads. Because we were putting a semi-solid in a 'bag'…one quarter of an inch was as thick as was possible. So when the gel parts arrived, I was stupid thrilled and proceeded to install the gel in the mask that the padding fell out of. As the installation went on, it dawned on me that the new padding was half as thick as the old. How was this going to work? I was afraid. So like you do when you know something isn't going to fit but you want it to so badly, you try it on anyway. Much to my surprise, the mask fit! I just needed to make a few back plate strap adjustments. I played that night with my new "solution" and I was not disappointed. During the game I had a race to the puck with an offensive player and I dove to knock the puck away, but in doing so, I knocked the player down and his right skate swung around to nail me right in the top left side of my mask. As soon as this happened the ref and player were asking me if I was all right and I gave that question a split second thought and as I hopped to my feet I realized that I was better than okay, I was thrilled!

The next product was the gel clavicle pad. I made the discovery that the chin of my mask fit nicely into the collar of my chest protector. The second discovery came when my chin was tucked into my c/a's collar I got hit in the head by the puck. This is when I found out that the energy transferred very nicely to the collarbones the chin of the mask was resting on. And so the ClavPad was born.

The collar portion came when my Swedish quasi-distributor friend told me that that neck protection was mandatory in his country. Robin made me a collar and I wore the ClavPad and Collar together as one. Then one day, as I was at the rink dressing for "open", I couldn't find one of the two pieces and went into a bit of a panic. As most goalies will attest, when you get used to wearing a piece of gear, to not have it anymore is cause for distraction. I did finally find the missing piece, but when I got back I called Robin and asked her if she could make these two pieces one and the Combo was born.

Thirteen years later and we're still the best kept secret in this industry and for that reason we're branching out to other sports, such as: lacrosse, bull riding, paintball anywhere we feel like the gel can benefit an athlete.