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Gorman: Bishop Canevin's Borghini an ace in goal

Kevin Gorman
| Wednesday, March 16, 2016, 8:16 p.m.
Bishop Canevin goaltender Neko Borghini makes a save on Mars' Beau Heakins during the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup title game Monday, March 14, 2016 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Bishop Canevin goaltender Neko Borghini makes a save on Mars' Beau Heakins during the PIHL Class AA Penguins Cup title game Monday, March 14, 2016 at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex in Cranberry.

Neko Borghini knows as goaltender he is the last line of defense for Bishop Canevin's hockey team.

What the Crusaders found in the PIHL playoffs was their stand-up goalie could stand tall.

Borghini had 40 saves in a 4-1 victory over Mars on Monday for the Class AA Penguins Cup title.

“He's actually been a rock down the stretch for us,” Bishop Canevin coach Kevin Pawlos said. “He was square to the puck, calm, cool and collected. He really led our team. Any time you have to kill penalties and spend a lot of time in your zone, you lean on your goaltender. That calming force really moved throughout the team.”

A year ago, Borghini was the baby-faced freshman who went 10-9 while trying to replace three-year starter Nikita Meskin.

Borghini since has shot up from 5-foot-5, 140 pounds to 5-10, 170 — and his game grew along with his body. He credits dek hockey — he will travel to London in July to play for Team USA in the U-16 world junior ball hockey championships — for helping with shot angles.

But it's the work Borghini put in during practice that allowed him to stop splitting time with freshman Jonathan Ruffing. As his confidence increased, so did the Crusaders' belief in Borghini, who allowed four goals in three PIHL playoff games.

“I felt like my play kept just kept getting better,” Borghini said. “I buckled down and peaked at the right moment.”

Bishop Canevin (18-6-1) is banking on Borghini to stand tall against Central Bucks South (21-0-0) for the Pennsylvania Cup on Saturday at Penn State.

“We have all the confidence in the world in Neko,” Pawlos said. “We think he can answer bell again.”

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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