Longtime Vernon Vipers’ owner Duncan Wray makes his B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame acceptance speech Friday night in Penticton.

Longtime Vernon Vipers’ owner Duncan Wray makes his B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame acceptance speech Friday night in Penticton.

Hooray for Vipers’ Wray

Joe Sakic, Jack McIlhargey, Rob Shick, Duncan Wray. Hmm, which one of these names doesn’t seem to belong?

Joe Sakic, Jack McIlhargey, Rob Shick, Duncan Wray. Hmm, which one of these names doesn’t seem to belong?

Even Wray wondered in awe how he was being mentioned in the same breath as those NHLers, but he was certainly worthy of the grouping Friday night before 700 at the  South Okanagan Events Centre.

Wray, 61, was one of four men inducted into the prestigious B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame. The 1986 Centennial Cup national junior A champion Penticton Knights also joined the shrine.

Noting that he was extremely honoured and humbled to be in such select company, Wray said he earned success as owner of the four-time national junior A champion Vernon Vipers by surrounding himself with great coaches and players.

Wray, an oral surgeon who bought the then Vernon Lakers on May 29, 1992, said he has no plans to stop building winners.

“I’ve got more energy now that I’m retired from my practice,” Wray told The Morning Star. “I’ve got a lot more to give.”

The son of a financial adviser, Wray grew up in Montreal, where he attended college and university before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh and Dalhousie University in Halifax.

He played minor and high school hockey in Montreal, and during his acceptance speech, poked fun at his career.

“One of my coaches once told me, ‘Kid, if someone passes you the puck, pass it back to them because they’ve obviously made a mistake.’ Another coach used to call me Poison Ivy. Years later, I asked why he called me Poison Ivy. Was it because I got under the other team’s skiN? He said, ‘No, it was because you were always a scratch.’”

Wray, whose teams have won seven B.C. Hockey League titles, had to chuckle at being cheered in Penticton, one of Vernon’s fiercest rival cities.

“The irony of being inducted in Penticton is not lost on me,” said Wray, after receiving his induction plaque and ring from his close friend and induction commitee member Darcy Rota. “Not many people from Vernon have been cheered in this facility.”

Wray said the night was magical since his wife, Libby, and four of the couple’s children, sat at his table. Outgoing Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner and Rota also joined the Wray table.

Sakic, who finished with 1,641 points in an all-star career, told the crowd his parents moved from Croatia and met in Vancouver, where they married. He said he was cut by his Pee Wee team at the North Shore Winter Club, but persevered.

McIlhargey, 59, said he has been involved in the game for 40 years and never felt like he was going to work. He played eight years as an NHL defenceman with the Flyers, Canucks and Whalers.

Shick, a longtime referee out of Port Alberni who worked 130 playoff games, said it was gratifying for his side of the business to be recognized.

Shick, 54, whose nephew Todd Miller, is the voice of the Vipers, took a shot at the rugged McIlhargey.

“Jack, some people ask me, especially my son, “Dad, whose Jack McIlhargey?’ I said, ‘Jack was the type of player that made you work even harder for the safety of the more talented players.’”

The Knights became just the 10th team, and second from Penticton, along with the 1955 world champion Vees, to be inducted into the shrine.

Head coach/GM Rick Kozuback said the Knights were inspired at the ‘55 Vees banner at old Memorial Arena during practices.

The Knights defeated the host Cole Harbour Colts of Nova Scotia 7-4 in the ‘86 Centennial Cup.

Cole Harbour had shaded Penticton 6-5 in opening round-robin play. Defenceman Kevan Melrose of the Knights was named tournament MVP, while Penticton’s David Shields took Most Sportsmanlike Player and made the all-star team at centre.

The likes of Greg Cyr, John dePourcq, Lee Davidson, Jamie Loewen, Warren Sharples, Al Novakowski and Scott Rawson were on the championship Knights.