By Warren Kozireski —
“He has always had an interest since he was a kid to come to West Point,” Army head coach Brian Riley said. “I remember getting emails from him and I’m like ‘I don’t know who this kid is’ and then we saw him play.
“He’s one of those kids who is made for West Point but West Point is made for him. It’s a real good fit.”
Army junior defenseman Cody Fleckenstein grew up in Fredonia and played for St. Francis Prep and the Nichols School in the Buffalo area before jumping to Omaha in the USHL for one season at 18 years of age and then Corpus Christie in the NAHL in 2016-17 where he was named Defenseman of the Year after a 13-goal, 32-point 58 game campaign.
Then came West Point—seemingly a life-long dream.
“My uncle went to West Point, so at a very young age I always had the goal of being a Cadet and to play hockey here too, so coming out of high school and looking at colleges it became more real and after a while it was within sight,” Fleckenstein said after being able to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends due to a weekend pair of road games at Canisius.
“I started talking to (Associate Head) Coach (Zach) McKelvie in high school and then strung a couple years of juniors together so that kind of sealed the deal. I was always the kind of kid like Rudy itching to come.
“I remember in high school my dad went up to Coach and told him I really wanted to go to West Point. I wasn’t really a stand-out player in high school by any means, but it was one of those things that I kept working towards and never lost focus and sure enough, it’s reality.”
Fleckenstein was limited to just three games during his freshman season due to a loaded Black Knights defense, but played in 22 of 39 tilts during his sophomore year earning his first collegiate point with an assist Oct. 20 against Robert Morris. He finished fourth on the team in blocked shots.
“Every day in practice you know you’re not going to be in the line-up, but you’re not working necessarily for that day but you’re working for the next three years,” Fleckenstein reflected about his freshman year. “It’s a tough spot to be in, but at the end of the day it’s about developing as a player and as a person, so I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
This season the 6’0”, 180 lb. left shot had played in each of the team’s first 14 games and picked up his first collegiate goal in the second period Nov. 16 at Holy Cross.
“He’s our kind of shutdown heavy guy; he’ll block shots and he really gives us a blue-collar hard-nosed toughness back there,” Riley said. “If you don’t notice the “D” that’s a good thing, but if you watch the game closely or look at the tape afterward, you’ll see him doing some of the little things like defending the other team’s top player.
“He’s a real, real good player for us. He understands his role and just plays it really, really well.”
The junior entered December second among Black Knight blueliners in plus/minus at +5 and had already picked up three assists with the latest coming in front of family in the first of two against Canisius.
But Fleckenstein will never lose sight of his main role for the Black Knights.
“We have players that have to play a role and that’s my role on the team; I know going in that if it’s a power play it’s not my job but if we’re down a man and need someone to step up, then that’s when I need to play big.”