Excitement isn't something that is easily faked, but even Stevie Wonder would be able to tell that Jordan Thomson's excitement is real.
Thomson is getting ready for his first full season with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, who open Friday night against the Kelowna Rockets. Game time, at Interior Savings Centre, is 7 o'clock.
Come opening faceoff, Thomson's face likely will be shaped into a well-practised scowl, but it has been smiling a lot since he got to Kamloops in late August.
"I'm really excited, but a little bit nervous at the same time," says Thomson, 16. "I can't let that affect me. I've got to play my best hockey from Day 1 . . . but I'm so excited.
"I've been waiting for this my whole minor hockey career, and now I'm here."
Thomson, a 5-foot-11 defenceman from Wawanesa, Man., spent the last two seasons with the Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba Midget AAA Midget Hockey League, who play out of Souris, a community about 50 kilometres southwest of Brandon. He had an eye on the WHL and on Spokane Chiefs defenceman Reid Gow, who is from Killarney, Man., which is about half an hour from Wawanesa.
"Reid Gow in Spokane, he was always an idol to me when I was growing up back home," Thomson says. "Once I found out about the WHL, I said, 'I want to play there some day.' Who knew it would be at 16?
"It's been one of my goals, but I have plenty more - I just have to work hard."
The Blazers have high hopes for the youngster.
They took him in the first round, fourth overall, of the 2011 WHL bantam draft - it was their highest selection ever - and brought him to town for four games after Christmas last season.
He showed well, and even scored a power-play goal in his third game, a 6-3 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Dec. 30.
The Blazers were pleased with his performance, and Thomson is pleased to have had the opportunity.
"Without those games, it would take me a little longer to get used to the bigger guys, the faster games," he says. "Those four games helped me a lot, but there's still a lot to learn."
Yes there is, and he's not taking anything for granted.
After all, he's only 16, and 16-year-olds are rarely guaranteed anything. That's why Thomson's main goal for the season is to get into the lineup regularly.
"I want to play as many games as I can," he says. "I want the coaching staff to play me, and not have a reason to sit me out.
"I also want to make the under-17 (West) team" for the World U17 Hockey Challenge in Victoriaville and Drummondville, Que., after Christmas.