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Candice Ward/Photo

His patience has been rewarded.

After being sent back down to midget after training camp in August, Bryce Bader found himself itching to get the call back up.

With injuries lingering to the Hitmen lineup, the 16-year-old got what he wished for.

“I’ve been waiting for this call up all year and was so excited when it happened,” Bader said. “I couldn’t wait once I was told the news and was ready to go.”

This isn’t the first call-up Bader has received, as a 15-year-old he was called up for one game against the Kootenay ICE on the road last season.

Although he knew what to expect this time around, this year was a little more special with the game being a home contest Wednesday night against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

“Being at the Dome was that much more special and a great atmosphere,” he said. “The crowd and just the whole experience of it all was something I won’t forget.

“I had a lot of extra jump.”

After keeping a close eye on the forward in training camp and exhibition games, head coach Dallas Ferguson was impressed with how Bader handled himself and took note of his progression since he last saw him.

“He was hungry to get back here after getting his feet wet in exhibition games,” Ferguson said. “He’ll get more opportunities and you’ve seen him make the strides to improve his game and be more physical which we were looking for.

“He’ll get a feel for playing in this league and what it takes to be here.”

With the WHL season officially passed the halfway mark, Ferguson stated that this time of year can be difficult for an affiliate such as Bader to join the club.

“The pace and intensity jumps in the second half of the season and that can be hard to get accustomed to,” Ferguson said. “In a way he’s making two jumps coming in at a crucial time.”

Bader has spent the season playing in midget AAA with the Sherwood Park Kings. In 25 games, he has racked up 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) surpassing his point total from a season ago when he finished with 19.

After he returns to the Kings, the goal will be to not only help them succeed, but to also continue his development for next season.

“These set of games will help me understand how hard it is to be here and the work I have to put in to be here full time next year.”

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