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by Staff Writer / Carolina Hurricanes

This Wednesday's episode of NHL Cool Shots will feature some familiar faces to Carolina Hurricanes fans. Forwards Bates Battaglia, Craig Adams and Shane Willis will all display their marksmanship skills and defenseman David Tanabe talks hockey, music and life with Corrosion of Conformity bass player Mike Dean during a gingerly skate-around.

The Cool Shots team visited Raleigh Thursday, January 4, to file their report on these four Hurricanes up-and-comers. They treated three of them — Battaglia, Adams and Willis — to an afternoon of fun with guns. Their paintball excursion loosened up the trio and brought them closer together.

“I’ve played paintball a few times,” Willis said. “We actually did it when I played junior once on a road trip. We were in a city for a couple of days so we got to go play as a team. We won the first game so the coach said as a reward that we got to go play. But, the next day, all we talked about in the dressing room was about getting killed and all that, so we got smoked on the ice about 8-1, I think. That was the last time I ever played paintball.”

Willis and the Hurricanes faired better following their paintball outing than his junior team did, on Saturday when Carolina tied the Colorado Avalanche. Still, postgame excitement as well as a few bumps and bruises are parts of paintball.

“He (Willis) was probably 40 or 50 feet away. But he hit me right in the face. See the welt on the back of his arm? When he was that far away, I’d just send out a couple to see where the shots were. I’d just shoot from the hip and keep going until I got him,” said Adams.

Willis was not concerned about the slight red bump on the back of his right arm.

“That’s just part of the game,” he said.

According to the paintballers, Battaglia took the crown. Battaglia attributed his success to his hard-nosed, gritty style and some experience with firearms.

“My stepdad’s a cop and we used to shoot his gun once in a while up at our cottage,” Battaglia said. “I hate to keep tooting my own horn, but I was pretty good. I pelted Willie from quite a ways away a couple of times, and I just kept drilling him even though I knew he was dead.”

Even Willis admitted that Battaglia had significant skill on the paintball field.

“Batesy is the hardest. I could never kill Batesy. I only got Ads once,” said Willis.

Battaglia put a different spin on the story.

“Me and Ads beat the crap out of Willie and (Cool Shots co-host) Dan Moriarty. We played three games total and we shellaced them,” said Battaglia.

Hurricanes fans can catch highlights of the Battaglia-Adams-Willis-Moriarty paintball match Wednesday, January 10 at 5 p.m. on ESPN. After the initial broadcast, ESPN2 will re-air the program at various times during the following week. Check your local listings for times in your area.

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