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Phantoms’ Stafford retires

The reigning Calder Cup champion Philadelphia Phantoms today announced the retirement of center Ben Stafford, who has enrolled at Jefferson Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

“I’ve always wanted to enter medicine and I think this is the right time for me,” said Stafford, who attended Yale University from 1997-2001. “I consider myself fortunate to have been in Philadelphia and with the Phantoms the past three years. It’s been a unique experience and I made some great friends along the way. I’m proud of all the things that my teammates and I accomplished.”

Stafford, 26, ends his career ranked sixth on the Phantoms’ all-time games played list (234) and 16th in points (94). He appeared in all 80 games twice during his three years in Philadelphia and finished with 39 goals, 55 assists, 106 penalty minutes, eight power-play goals and eight game-winning goals. Stafford also played in all 21 playoff games this past season and helped Philadelphia capture its second AHL title by tallying the winning goal in the decisive Game 4 of the Calder Cup Finals against Chicago.

While known on the ice for his strong work ethic, durability and penalty-killing skills, Stafford was a role model off the ice as well, twice earning Phantoms’ AHL Man of the Year honors for community and charity work.

“Well, we’re certainly sorry to see Ben go, but very excited for what he’s moving on to,” said Phantoms head coach John Stevens. “He was a hard worker and perfect teammate and aptly nicknamed the ‘golden citizen’ because he did everything right. He and his wife Ali were two great people to have as part of the team. Ben was one of the biggest contributors to the community and it’s good to see that will continue with the commitment that he is now making.”

Originally from Edina, Minn., Stafford led Yale to the Ivy League title as a senior in 2000-01. In 122 career collegiate games, Stafford totaled 38 goals and 72 assists for 110 points. The 5-11 center spent the majority of his rookie season with the Trenton Titans and earned 2002 ECHL All-Rookie Team honors by registering 61 points (22G, 39A) in just 56 games.