Beloved team owner dies

UPDATE 4:43 p.m.

Tributes are pouring in for Vernon Vipers owner Duncan Wray, who passed away unexpectedly last night.

Bernie Pascall tweeted, “BC Hockey @bchllive @VernonVipers saddened with the death of Duncan Wray. He was one of the best junior owners ever. He had many friends. Condolences to the family #RIP.”

Former Viper Mitchell Oliver tweeted, “Saddened to hear about the passing of @VernonVipers owner Duncan Wray. The man did so much for me in my 2 plus years in Vernon and I can’t thank him enough. Thoughts and prayers to him and his family.”

Former Vipers head coach Mike Vandekamp tweeted, “Heartbroken to hear of the passing of my good friend Duncan Wray who gave me and my family a wonderful opportunity to join the @VernonVipers in ‘01 and our friendship continued from that day fwd. Always cherish those daily 8am coffees and the 1st photos of both my children. RIP.”

Current player Jagger Williamson said, “Devastating news losing our leader Duncan Wray. Such an amazing man that gave his heart and soul into the hockey world. Made my childhood dream come true. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Wray family. #RIP.”

Numerous tributes to Wray have also been posted to the Vernon Vipers Facebook page.

“My condolences to the Wray family may they find peace in the sadness. Such a legacy to the Vipers such an outstanding man. My condolences to all the Vipers players who had the opportunity to be apart of Mr. Wray experience and to all the couches. He will be missed in our hockey world. Rip Mr. Wray,” said one post.

“Shocked and saddened by this sudden loss. Most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family. As well to the Vernon Vipers, and the Viper staff. Dr. Wray will be remembered with love and respect forever in this town,” said another post.

UPDATE: 2:50 p.m.

The owner of the BCHL's West Kelowna Warriors says Duncan Wray will be missed by everyone in the BC Hockey League.

Mark Cheyne says Duncan Wray, the Vernon Vipers owner who passed away in his sleep, did things the right way.

"We had the same type of attitude and mentality towards the game," said Cheyne.

"Our goals were very similar, that's why we became pretty good friends away from the game."

Cheyne said in most instances, Wray put the league ahead of the interests of his own team.

UPDATE: 1:31 p.m.

The family of Duncan Wray has issued a statement about his passing.

“Duncan was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend to those that knew him. His loss leaves a huge hole in our hearts and he will be greatly missed.

“The unexpected news has come as a devastating blow and although the family is grateful for all the kind messages of sympathy, we ask that we can be left to grieve in private at this very difficult and sad time for us.”

Information about a celebration of life will be made available at a later date.

ORIGINAL: 12:20 p.m.

The longtime owner of the Vernon Vipers has passed away.

There are reports Duncan Wray died in his sleep last night, leaving the Vipers, their fans and the community in shock.

Wray was well respected in the BC Hockey League for his commitment to the team, his players and the league.

Wray purchased the Vipers, then known as the Vernon Lakers, in 1992 and played a major role in the club winning four national championships and finishing runner-up in 2011.

Under Wray‘s watch, the Vipers have won seven B.C. Hockey League championships and six Doyle Cup B.C.-Alberta championships. The team won 12 Interior Conference pennants and three BCHL regular season titles since Wray bought the team.

The team was known as the Lakers until changing their name to Vipers prior to 1995-96.

Wray was a retired oral surgeon. In 1992 he joined the BCHL board of governors and most recently was the chairman of the board.

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