BIizzard’s “Burn the Ships!” motto fuels them to 19 victories
Members of the Blizzard Peewee team hold up their trophy in a postgame celebration. - Photo provided
Carter Hilde | Special to the Leader
BURNETT COUNTY – “If we are going home, we are going home in their ships.” Fearless leader Hernando Cortez led his troops to overthrow the Aztecs of Mexico, with the phrase “burn the ships” empowering them. The Spanish conquistador would not have a backup plan in case of failure, because success was the only option. Thus, his men burned their ships, and with a successful fight, they returned home in the Aztecs’ ships.
Similarly, Blizzard Peewee hockey team coaches Kelly Hopkins, Andy Douglas and Chris Shutt have chosen the motto “Burn the Ships” as their theme this season, and have won 19 games!
When asked what the phrase “Burn the ships” meant to them, the coaches responded accordingly.
“I heard this quote when I listened to the artists Luke and Joel Smallbone talk about the meaning behind their album, “Burn the Ships,” Hopkins explained, “It means all in, retreat is not an option. Give everything you have each shift and leave past mistakes, burdens, or negative thoughts about oneself behind.”
Douglas interprets the phrase as, “total commitment to the team and our season-long goals.”
“To me, ‘burn the ships’ means leaving the past behind whether it is good or bad and moving on to prepare for the future,” added Shutt.
The hockey players have their own understanding of the phrase and explain how they are motivated by it, along with thoughts on the sport and their future.
Bradon Nutter plays defense and has been playing since he was 5. His team has always been there for him and he is proud to keep progressing with his hockey skills. Burn the ships means leaving the past behind and learning from failures. Bradon hopes to be a surgeon; his experiences playing hockey have taught him people skills and how to be part of a team working together to achieve a common goal.
Lane Hopkins, nicknamed “Hoppie,” plays defense and has been skating since age 2. The sport and his team help relieve stress and calm his temper. Burn the ships to Lane means letting the past go. Lane wants to be a diesel mechanic; his participation in hockey will help him work with others in the future.
Jacob “Jake” Pedersen plays right or left wing. He started skating at age 4 and is encouraged by his teammates. Jake recalls scoring his first goal, naming it his proudest moment. Burn the ships to him means never give up and forget the past. Jacob wants to be a pilot when he grows up.
Landyn Randt, aka Rantie, plays center and defense and started skating at age five. He’s comforted knowing his team always has his back and he’s proud to see his teammates working together toward one goal: bringing a banner home from state. “My team has gone to state four years in a row and we did not come through when we needed it, this year we will Burn the Ships,” he said. When Landyn grows up, he wants to be a professional sports athlete; hockey can prepare him for that.
Ryder Anderson plays center and started skating at age 2, playing hockey at 4. Ryder’s teammates have been kind and great friends to him; he is proud to be a good passer and back checker. Burn the ships has influenced him to leave bad passes behind and do the best with how the play is going. Ryder plans to be a carpenter, and he says hockey has shown him to be smart and stay in shape.
Levi Anderson plays left wing and started playing hockey at age 4. Levi says his teammates work well together, and they always lift up anyone feeling down. Burn the ships to Levi pushes him to try his hardest. He wants to be in the NFL or NHL one day and hockey is teaching him to prepare for his dreams and work his hardest.
Aiden Johnson plays wing and started skating at age 2. His team helps cheer up and encourage him, along with every other player that needs it. Aiden is most proud when he gets assists. Burn the ships to Aiden means if he does something bad he should forget about it and move ahead. When Aiden grows up, he plans to be a professional hockey player.
Landon Smestad, also known as “Hammie” or “Smesty,” plays right wing and has been since age 3. Landon appreciates his teammates’ encouragement and is proud to have gone to state four times. He believes burn the ships means forgetting about the past and working harder. He wants to be a mechanic and believes hockey has helped him to build strength and coordination.
Jenna Lester, known as “Nenna” or “Jenn,” plays center or wing. She started playing last year and scored her first goal with the help of her teammates Landyn and Clayton. She has made a lot of friends through hockey. She said, “Burn the ships means burning the negative things like not thinking you can get a hat trick or in my case a goal.” Jenna wants to play college hockey in Madison and believes she can as she has grown so much already.
Clayton Shutt, nicknamed “Shutt,” plays center or left wing and has been since he was 3 years old. His team helps to keep him calm and collected. Clayton appreciates the opportunities hockey has given him to make friends from other schools and spend time being active rather than playing video games. Burn the ships has influenced him to leave the bad games behind. Clayton hopes to skate for the Minnesota Wild and will be well prepared for the next level with his experiences now.
Owen Douglas plays right wing and started at age 4. He is proud to know how to skate, and the burn the ships motto has helped him push through tough times. He hopes to play in the NHL, thankful for Blizzard hockey pushing him toward that goal.
Kelsey Douglas plays left wing and has since she was 4 years old. She is proud that her team is going to state. Burn the ships has helped her to leave things in the past. Kelsey is unsure what her future entails but is thankful that hockey has taught her to get up, no matter what.
Timothy Joel McDonald, known by teammates as “Goalie Monster,” plays in the net. He started playing at age 10. Timothy’s team has helped him cope with losing games with words of encouragement. He is proud of winning the Baldwin tournament 6-5 in OT and getting a shutout. The song “Burn the Ships” by King and Country is very meaningful to Timothy. One line reads, ”Stepping into a new day, we can wash our fears away.” Leaving fear behind is important to Joel. He wants to be a game warden, and hockey has taught him to stay in shape, keep sharp and never to give up.
Lewis Anderson, or “Lewy Lewy,” plays goalie or right/left wing. He started hockey at age 9 and is proud to participate in the sport. Coaches describe him as kind and able to see the small details in his team that make a huge difference.
Dallis Strehlo started playing hockey three years ago; his position is right wing. Dallis is thankful for his teammates; they help him get to practice and keep everyone positive. Improving more each day, Dallis is proud to have become a great passer. Burn the ships has inspired him to leave the past behind but keep the knowledge and move forward. Hockey has prepared Dallis for the future with long-lasting friendships and an improved work ethic.
Grayson Hendricks-Baxter plays defense and started hockey when he was 7 years old. He knows his teammates always have his back, on and off the ice. Grayson says “burn the ships” means, “to put your stuff in the past and to move forward to your next challenge.” He wants to be a mechanic and believes the training in hockey will keep him fit for life.
Eva “Eves” Imme plays wing and has been skating since she was 3. Her team helps get her fired up and she is most proud of scoring her first goal. Burn the ships means leaving the past behind. Eva wants to be a rancher when she grows up. Hockey has shown her that anything is possible if you work hard enough.
Due to the coronavirus, the state tournament was canceled for our local Blizzard Peewee team, along with so many other huge athletic contests. The lessons learned this winter will remain with the team for years to come. Coach Hopkins says, “It is more important at the end of the day that these players are good humans; I am glad to say they also have incredible character and persistence too.” Burn the ships, Blizzard!

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