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November 22, 2014

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HOCKEY:

Brothers’ keepers

Wranglers twins celebrate 36th birthday during crucial home stand

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Leila Navidi

The last name “Ferraro” has become legendary in professional hockey thanks to the impressive careers of twin brothers Chris and Peter who turn 36 on Saturday.

The halfway point of any season is a time for reflection, reassessment and if necessary, rejuvenation.

For the Las Vegas Wranglers (16-16-3), this weekend's three-game home series with the West Division-leading Victoria Salmon Kings (26-10-4) is not only a chance to move above .500 as a team, but it is also an opportunity for its two marquee players to reexamine their legendary and lengthy careers.

This weekend is not just another home stand for twin brothers Chris and Peter Ferraro -- it also marks their 36th birthday and 30th year on the ice after taking up the sport in their Long Island, N.Y. backyard as kids.

But Saturday isn't a normal birthday for one of hockey's most famous siblings; it could be their last together as players.

"Yeah, a lot of people raise the question that it's getting close for us to call it quits around this time for the past few years," Chris said. "Obviously that crosses our minds, but as long as my brother and I still have that competitiveness and that love and that passion then we are still going to do it and not put a time frame on it."

Although the growing number of gray hair in the Ferraros' beards does not exactly hide their age in a locker room full of 20-somethings, Chris and Peter still approach the game with the same seriousness and intensity as their first trip to the NHL more than 14 years ago.

That professionalism has not only gained the Ferraro brothers respect and admiration from other players, but it has also often aided Wranglers coach and general manager Glen Gulutzan, who is only one year older than the twins.

"I think their biggest asset is what they bring off the ice," Gulutzan said. "They are pros the way they approach the game. You get lots of young kids in here who are good hockey players and work hard on the ice, but they don't know how to be a pro off the ice and I think Chris and Peter are good examples for those guys off the ice. "

With more than 1,700 professional games worth of experience between the brothers, it is no surprise they would embrace elder statesmen roles off the ice.

On the ice, though, the Ferraros still find ways to dominate their younger competition.

Last season Peter scored a franchise-record 36 regular season goals before finishing the playoffs with a total of 44 goals and 58 assists in 88 games. Before suffering a severe head and neck injury due to a sucker punch from a Victoria player in March, Chris had posted 51 points in 46 games.

"I think as you continue to get older you realize how fortunate and blessed you've been to have the ability to play this long," Peter said. "This game has been great to me. It has given me everything I have ever wanted in my life. So as you get older you just appreciate every day you can come to the rink even more."

Peter's trips to the rink this season have not been as productive as he has only recorded six goals and nine assists in 30 games this year, even while leading the Wranglers in shots with 114.

Chris, however, is second on the team with 11 goals and 15 assists in 32 games this season.

Yet despite Chris' offensive flurry in the first half of the season, he remains a truly loyal brother to Peter.

"(Peter) is the first one to tell you he is unhappy and frustrated and disappointed, but all great players go through that," Chris said. "It's not for a lack of work ethic or passion. It's just something that happens. I feel as though I haven't been as good a line mate to him -- I haven't been the playmaker that I have been in the past for him.

"We work in tandem, where I find him as a playmaker and he shoots the puck, and I don't think I've been very effective finding him in those right areas. When he's not happy with his production, then I'm not happy with mine."

After spending 11 of their 15 professional seasons together, the brothers are confident their on-ice chemistry will reignite not just for the second half of this season, but for hopefully a few more, too.

"I don't think we will ever completely leave hockey, whenever that days comes" Chris said. "If there are opportunities for my brother and I to stay involved in the game off the ice, we will explore those. I think it would be very difficult to just leave the game cold turkey. It's been in our blood since we were 6."

Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].

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