dson Harlacher loves life in Canada, he loves his teammates and he loves being with the Kamloops Blazers.
He's so in love with everything that he hasn't had time to be nervous for his first WHL regular-season game.
"I won't be (nervous)," promises the 17-year-old Swiss defenceman. "I've been in a few exhibition games, so I think I'll be good."
Harlacher and the Blazers are scheduled to open the WHL regular season against the Kelowna Rockets on Friday at Interior Savings Centre. Game time is 7 p.m.
That will mark the official start of the WHL career for Harlacher, whom the Blazers took with the 51st selection in the CHL Import Draft. The 6-foot-3 native of Zurich played last season with the U20 Kloten Flyers of the Swiss Elite Junior A League.
He feels he's prepared for the WHL, even if it is a big change from hockey back home.
"It's much more physical than in Switzerland," he says.
Harlacher isn't the first - and he certainly won't be the last - European player to notice this.
"That's the reason why I'm here," he says. "I want to play aggressively and to learn that side of the game."
If Harlacher wanted a chance to move up to the next level, the Blazers are a good team with which to do it. Kamloops currently has seven defencemen but, behind 20-year-old Sam Grist and 19-year-old Landon Cross, there isn't a whole lot of experience on the back end.
Kamloops lost three top-four guys - Joel Edmundson, Marek Hrbas and Tyler Hansen - off the team that made it to the WHL Western Conference final in 2012-13.
There are holes to be filled, and Harlacher could be one of the guys to do it.
"With the games that he's played and what he's done," says Blazers head coach Dave Hunchak, "there's certainly an opportunity for him to become a top-four defenceman with our team this season."
Harlacher has a lot of potential - he's a skilled player with a big body, and has confidence to boot. How well he adjusts to the Canadian game will determine how well he will do in the WHL.
"I think he's going to evolve into a top-two guy," Hunchak says. "I'm not saying that's going to happen this season - he's 17, and for us to expect him to jump right in is unfair to him.
"He's got good size, pretty good skill. But you have to remember - he's a 17-year-old kid coming from halfway around the world."
As for adjusting to life in Canada, it actually hasn't been that difficult.
Any time he's needed advice, Harlacher has turned to Blazers forward Tim Bozon, who was in Harlacher's position two years ago. Bozon, who is from Lugano, Switzerland, came over to Canada in the summer of 2011, when he was 17, and did so well in his first season with the Blazers that he was drafted in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens.
There is something of a language difference between Bozon and Harlacher - Bozon's first language is French, while Harlacher's is German. (Switzerland has four official languages; the other two are Italian and Romansh).
"When I have questions with (English) or something, I can ask (Bozon) and he helps me," Harlacher says. "Tim also speaks a little German, too, which is good. I understand a little French and can speak it a little - but not much."
That's not to say the rest of the Blazers haven't made Harlacher feel welcome.
"I like to play with Ryan Rehill," he says. "He helps me on the ice, speaks to me when I need it - he has helped me a lot."
This isn't Harlacher's first time in Canada - he came to Quebec for a tournament when he was younger. And by no means in this the most exotic place to which he has travelled.
His mother is of Angolan decent, and Harlacher has made a number of trips to the southwest African nation, the last three years ago.
"It's nice - it has nice beaches and it's always hot. Sometimes too hot," Harlacher says. "We usually stay in a city, but my grandpa, he lives away from the city.
"It's really nice - my grandpa has a farm there with a lot of food. We're always eating there."