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AN EYE ON HOCKEY:  Breaking up the family
Peter Ferraro is with the Wolf Pack. Don't be surprised if his twin, Chris, is on the way.

From their playing days in the United States Junior A Hockey League to the University of Maine, the Ferraros are proof the family that stays together, plays together.

After playing for the U.S. national team in 1993-94, they went to Atlanta of the IHL. Together, of course. From there, it was on to Binghamton and Hartford of the AHL, then Pittsburgh of the NHL.

"I'm sure they'll always be close," said Wolf Pack captain Ken Gernander, who is close to a couple of sets of twins.

Gernander's wife, Kerby, has a twin sister, who lives in the Philadelphia area. Ken said they talk three times a week.

Gernander has twin brothers who always played on the same teams. They eventually went their separate ways, Jimmy to a junior team in Canada and Jerry to an American junior team.

A month later, Jimmy quit his team and joined his brother.

"Jimmy was definitely homesick," Ken Gernander said.

Ferraro sounded homesick after scoring two goals in his Wolf Pack debut Wednesday night, a 4-2 victory over Fredericton. He went home to Long Island Thursday to pick up his car.

Driving back to Hartford gave him plenty of time to think about playing with the Wolf Pack and without Chris.

Peter said a lot of thoughts were going through his mind on his way to Hartford Wednesday after he practiced with the Penguins in the morning.

Peter calls Chris his "best friend." This doesn't surprise Wolf Pack coach E.J. McGuire.

"The most popular study in the world is twins," McGuire said.

McGuire doesn't need to use his Ph.D. in sports psychology to analyze Peter, who will turn 25 next week. All he has to do is remember what it was like as an assistant with the Flyers when Rich and Ron Sutter were in Philadelphia.

After playing junior hockey together, Rich went to Pittsburgh and Ron to Philadelphia. Thinking it would be beneficial to Ron, the Flyers acquired Rich from the Penguins in 1984. In 1986, Rich was traded to Vancouver.

"I think the time apart did them wonders," McGuire said. "I would like to think Chris and Peter can make that same developmental step."

So does Peter, who was "pretty shocked" when he learned he was returning to Hartford. He didn't know the Penguins were planning to send him to their AHL affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y. First, he had to clear waivers. Teams had 48 hours to claim players.

Wolf Pack general manager Don Maloney had said he wouldn't hesitate to get either Ferraro back after watching the Penguins take both off the waiver wire two days before the season opener. Maloney called the NHL with 45 minutes left to see if any Wolf Pack players had been claimed.

An hour later, Rangers GM Neil Smith called Maloney and told him the Penguins had claimed the Ferraros -- the team's leading scorers last year -- in the closing minutes.

Penguins owner Howard Baldwin, who brought hockey to Hartford in the 1970s, was upset when the Connecticut Developmental Authority chose the Rangers' minor league team instead of his. So there was plenty of speculation about Pittsburgh's motive for claiming the Ferraros from Hartford.

Whatever the reason, it didn't help Peter or Chris. Both had been working out with the Wolf Pack.

"We missed all of training camp {in Pittsburgh}," Peter said. "So {Pittsburgh players} were able to learn the system a lot quicker than my brother and I. We had to learn in practice or watching games. That's pretty difficult."

Peter had three goals and four assists in 29 games with Pittsburgh. Chris had two goals and four assists in 34 games.

Copyright The Hartford Courant 1998

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