It’s the kind of game Duncan Wray would have enjoyed from his usual standing place in Section S at Kal Tire Place (KTP), or through his camera lens in the northwest corner at ice level.
The late Vernon Vipers owner and photography buff would have also had a smile on his face, watching his team win its B.C. Hockey League home opener Saturday, Sept. 23, 3-1, over the Cranbrook Bucks in front of 2,209 fans.
“It was a great win and a great crowd, exactly what he would have loved,” said Vipers’ assistant general manager Todd Miller.
Wray, who died suddenly on his 68th birthday Jan. 11, 2018, was honoured inside and outside of Kal Tire Place prior to puck drop.
With his family and some former players on hand, the roadway into Kal Tire Place off 43rd Avenue was named Duncan Wray Way, with the sign unveiled an hour before game time.
A ceremony was held just prior to the first-period faceoff which saw a banner with Wray’s name, and the years he owned the club – 1992-2018 – raised to the rafters.
Isaac Tremblay gave the home crowd something to cheer about at 6:10 of the opening frame, scoring a powerplay marker. The lead lasted until 10:02 of the second period when Bryce Sookro scored an unassisted powerplay marker for the Bucks.
After Bucks defenceman Patrick Czarnecki took a four-minute high-sticking penalty with less than four minutes remaining in regulation time, the Vipers capitalized twice on the man advantage.
Adam Csabi scored the game-winner at 17:03 while Hank Cleaves added the insurance at 18:53.
Vernon lost its opener Friday, 3-2, at Salmon Arm.
The Vipers return to action Friday, Sept. 29, when they host the Merritt Centennials, 7 p.m., at KTP.