MIDDLETON — It started out as a hobby.
It has grown into a booming business that reaches its satisfied customers — those who stop speeding pucks for a living — worldwide.
Dom Malerba has been designing and crafting custom goalie masks since 1986. Malerba’s Middleton company, Pro’s Choice, was selected by Vaughn Hockey to produce their National Hockey League and minor league masks. He has mastered the art of mask making over the past 30 years and established himself as one of the premiere go-to guys for custom helmets.
The 49-year-old Lynnfield native creates masks for many of the superstar NHL goalies, top college and amateur goalies from across the country. Malerba’s list of professional clients includes Bruins netminders Tuukka Rask and backup Anton Khudobin, Phoenix’s Mike Smith and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Johnathan Quick of the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.
As a young entrepreneur, Malerba’s business venture didn’t take off overnight. But it got a helpful boost from a well-known goaltender at the time: then-Lynnfield resident Andy Moog of the Bruins.
“It was a hobby that just kept growing,” explained Malerba. “One thing led to another, and all of sudden things started to avalanche.
“Having Andy as one of my clients, other goalies would ask him where he got his mask made ... and it spread by word of mouth from there.”
From the beginning
As a kid, Malerba played hockey and became a goalie at Malden Catholic High School. He wanted a custom mask of his own, so he took a trip up to Canada to see a man who designed them.
“He was the only one around that made them at the time,” Malerba said. “This guy would take years to make one mask, and in some cases you wouldn’t even end up getting them. So I always said that if I was going to do this, I would get my masks out faster.