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Ohio forwards Liam Geither and Patrick Spellacy pose for a portrait in Bird Arena on February 25, 2015. Geither and Spellacy are both from Lakewood, Ohio and went to the same high school. 

Record-breaking history follows Bobcats teammates into collegiate play

Long-time best friends and teammates Liam Geither and Patrick Spellacy have played hockey together since kindergarten.

Liam Geither sat in Bird Arena’s training room with a television remote in his hand, turning channels as he waited his turn with the staff following one of Ohio’s more disheartening late-season losses.

Then, the subject of his high school career with fellow Bobcats forward Patrick Spellacy came up in conversation.

“Actually, it’s not just high school,” Geither said. “We’ve played together since we were little kids. We’ve been best friends since we were like three years old.”

Geither then paused to let out a short laugh that briefly snapped the tension that had enveloped the area around the locker room.

“It’s actually kind of funny,” he said.

Geither and Spellacy became friends at a young age, growing up in the same area of Lakewood, just west of Cleveland, and attending kindergarten together. Both were born into hockey families, and each was quickly attracted to the game.

It’s plenty common for childhood friends to pick up a mutual passion or hobby. What’s not so common is for both to stick with that activity for 17 years like Geither and Spellacy have.

And more uncommon than anything: They’ve both become very good.

“They’re both great possession guys,” said Ohio coach Sean Hogan. “Spelly’s a big, strong kid that’s good in the corners and can create opportunities, and he has a great shot. Liam’s like a worker bee, buzzing around the ice and creating opportunities in a different way. They’re both very hard workers.”

As close as Geither and Spellacy are, their styles of play aren’t anything alike. The most obvious disparity is their appearances, with Spellacy standing at a bruising 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, while Geither is listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds.

That difference in size significantly contributes to their playing styles. Spellacy is a more physical player and takes a more active role in shooting the puck, while Geither is known for his speed and ability to accurately distribute the puck.

“We’ve always just kind of complimented each other,” Geither said. “He’s a big guy, always had a hard shot and could take a body. And I was always the smaller guy who could skate past a goalie while he set up on him. It’s fun just being friends and playing together.”

It’s a level of chemistry that no high school team would have wanted to miss out on. Playing most of their careers on the same line, Geither and Spellacy led St. Ignatius High School through one its most successful period in school history, beginning with a state championship during their sophomore season in 2010.

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That success culminated in a high-octane senior season, when the team began the year 39-0 — an unprecedented start and a win total that remains the highest in Ohio High School Athletic Association history.

By the time the pair graduated, their names peppered St. Ignatius’ record books, with Spellacy and Geither combining for eight individual records. Spellacy is tied with his father, Kevin, for the record for most points in a single game (eight) and holds the career records for goals (135) and points (256).

The more senior Spellacy also holds the school record for goals in a game, with six.

Geither holds the records for single-game assists (five), as well as the single-season records for goals (56), assists (52) and points (108). He also holds a record for career assists (124).

Geither’s records are all the more impressive considering the fact that he amassed them in a season shortened by an Achilles injury.

“(Geither and Spellacy) pretty much ushered in this golden era we’re in right now where we compete for league and state titles every year,”  said St. Ignatius hockey coach Patrick O’Rourke. “We kind of look back on their years as a time when we really galvanized our program. They’re great kids, and it was a complete pleasure to coach them.”

Geither went straight from high school to Ohio University, while Spellacy chose to play a year of junior hockey for the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Jr. K-Wings. As Spellacy began to look at colleges, Geither was the one to convince him to become a Bobcat.

It’s a decision that has paid dividends for the duo and the team.

Spellacy, a sophomore, and Geither, a junior, rank third and fourth on the Bobcats, respectively, in points this season. That production makes each of them critical pieces to an Ohio team that should compete for national titles throughout the duration of their careers.

The end of their Bobcat careers, however, still seems like a distant thought.

Until then, the two will continue trying to pave the way for the next Spellacy/Geither combo. Their younger brothers are currently co-captains on a St. Ignatius squad that is in the midst of chasing its third state title in five years.

“Our older brothers are best friends and our younger brothers are best friends, so we’ve always been close,” Spellacy said, before another pause and a laugh.

“It’s actually kind of funny.”                                                 

@_tonywolfe_

aw987712@ohio.edu

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