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Whistlerites Cody Flann and Noah Brusse making the leap to NCAA hockey

Cody Flann and Noah Brusse are reuniting in the ncaa after a few years as competitors in KIJHL
Noah Brusse and Cody Flann
Noah Brusse (left) and Cody Flann were both selected from their respective teams for the KIJHL all-star team in 2019.

Last year, when the season was essentially cancelled, Whistler hockey player Cody Flann thought that might be it for his hockey life as injuries and concussions had taken the fun out of the game.

But while sitting at home during the lockdown, not doing much of anything, Flann began to miss the game and had the realization that “I’m a hockey player. I need to play.”

Luckily for Flann, one of his oldest hockey friends, Noah Brusse—also from Whistler—had committed to play hockey for the Missouri State University Ice Bears this upcoming season, and there was a space available for him to join as well.

“When I heard I might have a few buddies going to play there next year I was like ‘yeah, might as well,’” said Flann. “They had programs in school that I was interested in, a film program. So, I thought that it would be a good time, spend it with my friends, learn some stuff and play hockey.”

The two Whistlerites first met at five years old and have played together every year growing up, until recently when they became opponents in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), after going to two different Junior B teams.

While that transition from teammates to competitors was strange for the two, especially after more than 10 years and three provincial championships playing together, it was even stranger for Brusse’s mom Devon, who Flann describes as his “hockey mom” and believes he wouldn’t even still be playing if it wasn’t for her efforts while growing up.

“I know for Cody, his mom passed away when he was very young, so I became his hockey mom,” said Devon Brusse. “I was driving Noah, so I would just pick up Cody. I think since the age of eight I had Cody in my car, sleeping in our house and hotels. They’re more like brothers than friends in my mind.”

But now that the two are back on the same team and heading to Missouri, along with another longtime childhood teammate, Noah Malthaner, Devon could not be more excited for what’s to come, even if she’s going to have to get used to not being able to see every game live anymore.

“It’s like full circle. They started playing hockey together at five [years old] and they are going to be finishing their careers probably by the time they are 25. I mean, what an opportunity,” she said.

“Noah was very excited to go down there and all of a sudden, the opportunity came up for Cody and it’s just awesome. I’m so proud of both of them. It’s going to be great for them to play with each other again. They just know each other so well on and off the ice, so I think Missouri is going to benefit from that.”

While Brusse, a 6-4 defenseman, and Flann, a 5-8 forward, will be bringing drastically different elements to each game when they finally suit up for their new team this fall, the goal for each is simple and identical: to help the team win.

“[My goal is] to just get down there and figure out the pace and figure out how to make my game work and see if I can play the way that I know that I can,” said Brusse.

“I mean, I’d love to go down there and be the best team in the league and win every game but unfortunately I don’t know if that will be possible my first year down there.”

Brusse and Flann are packing up the car and heading down south this weekend. And while the move will be a big change for the two boys who have spent most of their lives surrounded by the mountains of B.C., they can’t wait to see what Missouri has to offer.

“I’m expecting no mountains, for one,” Flann said jokingly when asked what he expects. “I know maybe it’s not as beautiful as B.C. is, but sometimes you got to leave to know how special the place you live truly is.

“But I’m sure I’ll find something that makes me fall in love with it somehow, I’m always pretty optimistic about those things.”