GLENS FALLS u The standings still show the Adirondack Phantoms in the basement of the American Hockey League. That will take some time and work to change.
But for one weekend at least, the Phantoms sure didn't look like the league's worst team. Or even one close to it.
After a 2-1 victory over Abbotsford in front of a crowd of 2,725 at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday night, the Phantoms go into their Christmas break on a winning streak for the first time in more than nine months.
On back-to-back nights, the Phantoms beat two-time defending league champion Hershey and then Abbotsford, which came into the game in second place in the North Division of the Western Conference.
"It's huge because it's kind of a little statement coming into the second half of the season," winning goaltender Nic Riopel said. "I think all of the team and the organization needed this."
Winning streaks are rare occurrences for Adirondack. It had been 51 games over the last two seasons since the Phantoms won consecutive games.
The Phantoms (6-23-2-0) are off until the day after Christmas. They've won three of their last six games after starting the season 3-20-2.
"At least it's a good feeling to go to our family with two wins," Riopel said.
The Phantoms claimed this one with a strong penalty kill and good work from two of the main characters in Friday's win.
A night after scoring his 300th career goal, Denis Hamel added a goal and an assist. Hamel has five goals and seven assists in his last eight games.
Riopel stopped 26 of 27 shots. His busiest stretch came during an odd second period when the Heat outshot the Phantoms 10-1, but the Phantoms scored on their lone shot, a Hamel snipe from the left circle.
"I know (it's strange), but it was a quality shot," Riopel said.
The Phantoms killed four penalties during the second period and held the Heat to 1 for 8.
The game never generated much five-on-five flow as 19 penalties were called and 15 power plays were awarded.
"The PK did an amazing job," Riopel said. "(Ben Holmstrom) pretty much won 80 percent of the draws. It helped our PK when we start with the puck."
Michael Ryan's short-handed goal, his second goal with the Phantoms, gave the Phantoms a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Hamel made it 2-0 1:44 into the second, but the Phantoms didn't register another shot until early in the third period. In between, the Heat hit a crossbar - they argued it went in and out - and a post.
That's the kind of weekend it was for the Phantoms.
Abbotsford (16-14-1-3) 0 0 1 - 0
Adirondack (6-23-2-0) 1 1 0 - 2
First period - 1, Adirondack, Ryan 3 (Hamel), 1:51 (SH). Penalties - Bordson, Adk (holding), 0:44; Cameron, Abb (high-sticking), 5:19; Meyer, Abb (fighting), 11:05; Rinaldo, Adk (fighting), 11:05; Armstrong, Abb (high-sticking), 13:26; Stone, Abb (cross-checking), 16:15; Ryan, Adk (holding), 17:00; Piskula, Abb (cross-checking), 19:51.
Second period - 2, Adirondack, Hamel 11 (Syvret, Holmstrom), 1:44. Penalties - Marshall, Adk (hooking), 2:55; Syvret, Adk (roughing), 4:17; Harper, Adk (holding), 6:58; Marshall, Adk (delay of game), 8:40; Cunning, Abb (slashing), 9:46.
Third Period - 3, Abbotsford, Keith 12 (Stone), 4:27 (PP). Penalties - Testwuide, Adk (boarding), 2:35; Cameron, Abb (major-charging, game misconduct), 5:37; Lehtivuori, Adk (holding), 8:05; Meyers, Abb (boarding), 11:21; Holmstrom, Adk (cross-checking), 19:56.
Shots on goal - Abbotsford 6-10-11-27. Adirondack 13-1-9-23.
Power-play opportunities - Abbotsford 1 of 8; Adirondack 1 of 7.
Goalies - Abbotsford, Irving 15-9-1 (23 shots-21 saves). Adirondack, Riopel 2-5-0 (27 shots-26 saves).
Referee - Mayer.
A - 2,725.