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AHL names award winners for March

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Cleveland Monsters forward Zac Dalpe, Bakersfield Condors forward Tyler Benson and Charlotte Checkers goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic have been selected as the league’s award winners for March.

Dalpe, the CCM/AHL Player of the Month, scored 12 goals and finished with 16 points and a plus-12 rating in 12 games last month as the Monsters went 8-2-1-1 and continued their push towards a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Dalpe began the month by notching two goals and an assist in Cleveland’s 4-1 win over Laval on Mar. 1. He began his current eight-game scoring streak with a goal at Milwaukee on Mar. 13, and netted a shorthanded marker on Mar. 16 in Rockford. Dalpe had a goal and an assist to help the Monsters to a 5-2 win in Rochester on Mar. 22, and scored in both halves of Cleveland’s two-game sweep of Hershey on Mar. 23-24. Dalpe finished off March by earning CCM/AHL Player of the Week honors thanks to a five-point weekend, highlighted by his hat trick in a 6-3 win over Lehigh Valley on Mar. 29.

Since returning to the Monsters’ lineup on Feb. 22, Dalpe has 15 goals and six assists in 15 games while Cleveland has closed from nine points out of a North Division playoff spot to just one point back. He enters April tied for fourth in the AHL with a career-high 30 goals and leads the Monsters with 50 points in 48 games in 2018-19. The ninth-year pro from Paris, Ont., has totaled 138 goals and 128 assists for 266 points in 353 career AHL games, along with 12 goals and 13 assists in 141 career NHL contests – including one assist in one game with Columbus this season.

Benson, the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month, registered five goals and 13 assists for 18 points in 11 games in March for Western Conference-leading Bakersfield.

After being held off the scoresheet on Mar. 1 vs. Iowa, Benson went on to record points in his next 10 games, tied with teammate Cooper Marody and three others for the longest active scoring streak in the AHL. Benson tallied two assists in a 5-2 win over San Jose on Mar. 2, and followed that with a goal in an 8-4 road victory over the Barracuda on Mar. 6. He set a personal best with four points (on one goal and three assists) to help the Condors to a 7-0 win over Ontario on Mar. 16, and he notched two helpers each in back-to-back wins against Ontario on Mar. 27 and San Diego on Mar. 29.

A 21-year-old native of Edmonton, Alta., Benson leads all AHL rookies in scoring and ranks seventh overall with 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists) in 62 games for the Condors; his 48 assists are the most by an AHL rookie in the last decade. Selected in the second round (32nd overall) of the 2016 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Benson played junior hockey for Vancouver in the WHL and made his professional debut with the Condors late last season, recording three assists in five games.

Nedeljkovic, the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month, was 6-2-1 with a 1.46 goals-against average, a .945 save percentage and two shutouts in nine starts for Charlotte during March, keeping the Checkers on top of the overall AHL standings.

Nedeljkovic made 23 saves in a 4-2 win over Binghamton on Mar. 1, and rebounded from a 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley on Mar. 8 with a 22-save shutout of the Phantoms two days later. He stopped 28 shots in a 4-1 win over Rochester on Mar. 15, and made 32 saves as the Checkers defeated Syracuse, 4-2, in a battle of division leaders on Mar. 20. Nedeljkovic turned aside 31 shots as Charlotte beat Hartford, 3-1, on Mar. 23, and established a franchise record with his 32nd win of the season on Mar. 27, making 23 saves and shutting out Bridgeport, 4-0.

Since Jan. 1, Nedeljkovic has gone 17-3-3 and has allowed two goals or fewer in 21 of his 23 starts; he owns a record of 32-8-5 in 48 appearances overall and currently leads the AHL in victories, goals-against average (2.24) and minutes played (2,738) while ranking eighth in save percentage (.918) and tied for fourth in shutouts (four). A second-round choice by Carolina in the 2014 NHL Draft, Nedeljkovic has also made one start for the Hurricanes this season, earning his first career NHL win on Jan. 23 at Vancouver. The 23-year-old native of Parma, Ohio, is in his third professional season and is 71-34-9 with a 2.59 GAA, a .904 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 122 career AHL appearances, all with Charlotte.

Each monthly award winner will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming home game in recognition of his achievement.