Column: BCHL loses legend with passing of Duncan Wray

The Vernon Viper owner presided over one of junior A’s most prestigious and successful teams.

Jacob Bestebroer writes a weekly column during hockey season discussing the Chilliwack Chiefs, the BCHL and goings-on around the junior A world.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of long time Vernon Vipers owner Duncan Wray last week.

I first met Duncan at the first ever Royal Bank Cup Championship in Melfort, Saskatchewan in 1996.

Prior to that year it had been called the Centennial Cup and he was there cheering on his Vipers. At first I was just there, but after meeting Duncan I started cheering on the Vipers.

After Vernon stunned the home town fans and defeated the Melfort Mustangs 2-0 in the final, I sought out Duncan to congratulate him. He thanked me and urged me to keep in touch.

Three years later, Chilliwack and Vernon began a five year stretch during which they met in the league finals four times.

Each team won twice.

We kept in touch through those years, even having lunch when we both had the time.

After that, I didn’t see him often but when I did we still made a point of chatting and catching up.

My story is similar to that of many people in and around the BCHL. He will be missed.

The Vipers played a video tribute at their home game over the weekend and I urge you to look for it on their site and on their Youtube page. In it Duncan talks about his philosophies on owning a junior hockey team. They are powerful words.

The Chiefs are in Salmon Arm Friday before taking on the Victoria Grizzlies on home ice Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Grizzlies have taken advantage of a slumping Powell River Kings team and have moved into first place in the Island division. Heading in to the weekend they have 53 points in 50 games, three more than the second place Kings.

One player we won’t see in the Grizzlies lineup is 16 year old defenseman Jacson Alexander. The highly sought after prospect had committed to Denver University but changed his mind and is now with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League.

The player to watch for the Grizzlies is 16 year old forward Alex Newhook.

He leads them in scoring with 53 points in 37 games. He’s only five points back of the league’s leading scorer, Jasper Weatherby of the Wenatchee Wild. I said prior to this season that he would lead this league in scoring next year.

Well he may just do it this year.

Fans can skate with the team after the game on Sunday. Skate rentals are available and please remember that anyone thirteen or younger must wear a helmet.

The Chiefs annual Pasta D’Puck is set for Sunday, Jan. 28. After the Chiefs take on the Prince George Spruce Kings in a Mainland division clash at 2 p.m. at Prospera Centre, they will be heading over to the Best Western to change into their aprons.

There are still a few seats available. Call the Chiefs office or visit the Chiefs website at chillliwackchiefs.net for more details.

jb@chilliwackchiefs.net

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