Scurko settling in as an American - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Scurko settling in as an American

KENNEWICK, Wash. - The Tri-City Americans home opener is Saturday night, and as always, "home" will be on the mind of Ladislav Scurko. The 20-year-old is from Gelnica Slovakia, a town of only 6,00 people. He spent the last two seasons in the giant metropolis of Seattle before being traded this year to the Americans. Three years into his American experience, he still is adjusting.

"You got to change your lifestyle," said Scurko. "With the food, the people...they live different. They have different houses. It's a different style to live."

Not to mention the language barrier. "My first three months I was very quiet," he said. "I talked to myself only. Then I just started using a few words and then started coming up. After half a year I was pretty good."

Scurko hails from Gelnica, Slovakia, a town of just six thousand people. Three years ago, he headed halfway across the world to play for the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Western Hockey League is far more competitive than any Euro league for junior players, meaning Scurko traded his hometown for his hockey future.

"It was very tough for me, but the guys have been very nice to me, always talking to me," he said. "It makes me forget to miss my home a little bit. But, I still miss home."

He now has a new home with the Americans, who just acquired the powerful forward. Scurko is now settling in as an American, on and off the ice.

"He's a great guy, real funny, good sense of humor," said teammate Matt Swaby. "He has real good English, too."

"That's all part of adapting to our culture," said Ams coach Dan Nachbaur. "Learning the language is important, and since he's been in the league, he understands the game now, and we expect him to be an impact player for us."

Scurko will be one of the older and more experienced guys in the league. He's eyeing a roster spot with the Philadelphia Flyers next year and will be in a position to score a lot this year with all the talent around him.

"I have a great opportunity this year, and just have to try my best," he said.

Scurko has proven before that he knows how to complete a journey.

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