Often the biggest tests are those that come unannounced.
For those keeping score, Ben Israel has answered all the personal pop quizzes with flying colours.
The 18-year-old blueliner has overcome a serious injury and sudden relocation en route to becoming one of the key building blocks for the Coquitlam Express.
And while the understaffed club continues to struggle, falling 5-2 on Saturday to the Nanaimo Clippers, the number of positive points over the past month include the addition of the Michigan native.
"I was definitely a little surprised," said Israel of the Jan. 10 trade, which saw him and winger Garrett Forster traded by Chilliwack. "I wouldn't say I was disappointed but I was more excited about what could come."
That positive outlook - along with a larger role with the rebuilding Express - has made Israel a pleasant addition at the Poirier ice palace.
The five-foot-10 defenceman has been given the green light by Coquitlam coaches to push the envelope, resulting in six goals over 13 games. He's also thrown a handful of jarring bodychecks that have caught opponents by surprise.
The Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native came to the B.C. Hockey League almost on a lark, after an injury suffered last May put him on the bubble for a roster spot in the U.S. Hockey League.
A second round draft pick by the Michigan Warriors, Israel was still sidelined by a cut Achilles tendon when camps started up. Unable to push for a position, he instead followed a loose lead to Chilliwack last summer, and proceeded to impress Chiefs' coach and general manager Harvey Smyl.
"I couldn't walk during the (USHL) camp. I had a random contact that knew Harvey and I went out there - I couldn't make it through the whole practice but I battled through it and made the team."
With the Chiefs, Israel took to his role as a shutdown blue-liner with second powerplay duties. At the trade deadline, Chilliwack moved him, Forester and future considerations for sniper Philip Zielonka. The Express, falling outside of a top-four playoff berth, had an eye on next year. Both Israel and Forester are big pieces to next year's roster, Express coach and general manager Jon Calvano said.
"We wanted quality players back and guys who we would keep around next year," said Calvano. "We looked at (Israel's) upside, good skating ability, he's tough and a charismatic guy out there, with a personality."
A product of the famous Honeybaked minor system, Israel said he has modelled his game in the style of his favourite player, Nicklas Lidstrom.
"I like to throw my body around, too. I personally like scoring more because offensively you need to score to win the game. You're only going to win by putting up the points on the board but there's no doubt I love throwing my body around," he noted.
For Calvano, the intensity that Israel brings to a game - whether in his rambunctious physical play or smart puck sense - has made a lot of people sit up and take notice.
"I describe him as a bit like P.K. Subban - Ben's flamboyant, he's high risk, he plays a bit of pond hockey style but he's got offensive skills and [he's] a real good character guy and a lot of fun to have around," said Calvano.
The Express host the Prince George Spruce Kings for a pair of games this weekend, starting Friday, 7 p.m. The two teams tangle again on Sunday, 2 p.m. Both games are at the Poirier Sports Centre.