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PICK A PECA

When The Buffalo News asked readers who looked like local celebrities to send in pictures of themselves, we were surprised by the response for two reasons.

First, of the 17 entries we received -- that's after discounting seven non-local lookalikes right off the bat -- only two were from female doubles of TV reporters: Linda "Jean Hill" Lewis and Carol "Jodi Hovendon" Lutz.

But even more eyebrow-raising:

Five of the 17 said they could pass for Michael Peca.

Not in the hockey sense of the word "pass," mind you.

In the "I-look-like-one-of- Buffalo's-beautiful-peoLine is overdrawn ple" sense of the word.

This could only mean a couple of things. Either the crop of Buffalo men may be more genetically blessed than generally believed, or are a few among them seriously delusional?

To find out, we decided to pin down this pack of Pecas for a picture. Once they were assembled, they offered up a few stats. The youngest among them is 9; the oldest, 24. The shortest, 4th-grader Garrett Crage, stands 4'5", while the tallest, Williamsville South High School basketball player Mark Witte, is 6'8".

Next came the bragging rights.

Sal's Pizzeria manager Travis Melnik once visited the school where his father teaches and had the cafeteria monitors "running up to him, pen in hand."

Derek Morgan, an architecture intern in downtown Buffalo, was cast as Peca's double in an Adelphia commercial when the real star had to leave the set early.

And Garrett Crage? Well, his mother wanted to draw a 5 o'clock shadow on her son's face and have him masquerade as Peca for Halloween. But Garrett figured it would be cooler to dress as a skeleton.

Each one shares certain physical traits with the Sabres captain. And all were pretty easy on the eyes. But after the five had given each other the once over, the consensus was that Chris Bossert looked the most like Peca.

Bossert has won this kind of contest before. At the Wegmans store he used to manage, he beat out 100 other hopefuls in a Sabres lookalike contest last year.

"I made it into the Wegmans monthly newsletter," Bossert noted.

"It's not exactly Sports Illustrated, but it was enough for me."

-- Nicole Peradotto

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