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Brendan Gaunce Named Cleveland Monsters 2023-24 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year

April 11, 2024 - American Hockey League (AHL)
Cleveland Monsters News Release

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Monsters are proud to announce that Brendan Gaunce has been named the team's winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Cleveland community during the 2023-24 season.

Throughout his time in Cleveland, Gaunce has used his leadership and platform to help find ways to keep the team connected with the Northeast Ohio community.

The Monsters captain's work began as soon as he arrived in Cleveland, jumping immediately into the second year of his Points for Paws program. The program was created in the 2022-23 season after Gaunce approached the Monsters front office with the idea that for each point he recorded during the season, the veteran forward would donate $100 to the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

Additionally, the team showcased adoptable dogs and cats at each home game and on the social channels through the Points for Paws program. Together with his wife Heidi, Gaunce identified the Cleveland APL as the program's beneficiary due to their love of for animals, specifically their 10-year-old dog Lucy.

To continue to grow the Points for Paws program in its second year, Gaunce spearheaded additional volunteering opportunities for the rest of the Monsters players. Through his initiative and leadership, nine Monsters players spent an afternoon in training to be certified as Cleveland APL dog walkers. In addition to dog walking, Monsters players attended other volunteer opportunities during the year helping the Cleveland APL with projects including creating enrichment supplies.

In December, Gaunce utilized his role as team captain to provide more opportunities for the team to give back to the Northeast Ohio area. Gaunce and his wife helped spearhead the holiday adoption of nine local families made up of 52 individuals for the team. The players and their significant others spent an afternoon together to shop and wrap all their gifts for the families. Two of the families were able to join the Monsters to watch practice later in the month and meet with the players and staff.

Gaunce additionally took part in Tour with the Monsters presented by University Hospitals Sports Medicine which saw Monsters players travel to local ice rinks for practice and autograph sessions during the season in an effort to grow the game of hockey in Northeast Ohio.

Gaunce is now one of 32 finalists for the AHL's 2023-24 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League later this month.

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