GLENS FALLS -- Brian Stewart's first career professional win came fairly early in the year. He had to wait until nearly the very last hour to make it two.
Stewart played well for the second straight game and the Adirondack Phantoms closed out their best month of the season so far with a 3-2 shootout win over Springfield in front of a matinee crowd of 3,472 Friday at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Stewart came into the game 0-5 for this season and 1-7 in his career, with the lone win coming on April 7 in just his second career start after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Northern Michigan.
"We didn't give up near as many odd-man rushes as last game and that was the difference," Stewart said. "We looked like a total different team tonight."
Stewart entered Wednesday's 6-2 loss to Manchester in the second period with the Phantoms trailing 6-0. He stopped all 16 shots he faced in that game. Friday, he stopped 27 of 29 shots and didn't allow a goal in the shootout.
"I just wanted to work on my game when I went in there (in relief)," Stewart said. "Just make sure I could get better and build some confidence for whenever I did get my next start and it was nice to play tonight and win."
The Phantoms couldn't have asked for much better of a start.
They outshot the Falcons 14-4 in the first period and led 1-0 after a Jon Kalinski shorthanded goal 6:31 into the game.
Kalinski stole the puck, sped up the left wing, and sniped a shot top-shelf past David LeNeveu to make it 1-0.
But the Phantoms' control of the game didn't show up on the scoreboard and Springfield turned the tables in the second. They scored twice in the final seven minutes of the second to take a 2-1 lead into the third period.
Suddenly, the Phantoms found themselves behind in a game they had controlled.
"At one point you see the shots are 16-4 and then it's always creeping up in the back of your mind if they score, no matter what kind of goal it is... it does look bad on the goalie," Stewart said. "That's why the mental game is so hard for a goalie. You can't even worry about anything like that. You try to keep your eyes away from the shot clock as much as you can."
But the Phantoms weren't done fighting.
In a feisty third period, Greg Moore tied it on his third goal in as many games, getting a perfect feed from behind the net from Denis Hamel and Luke Pither.
Michael Ryan scored in the shootout, and Pither, the final shooter, iced it with a goal.
"It just shows they're capable of mentally coming back," Adirondack coach Joe Paterson said. "It was a great all-around effort. The players stuck together and played for each other out there on the ice. There were so many good things that went on in the game."
There have been a few good things going on lately. The Phantoms have won three of four and four of six.
After winning just three games in the first two months, the Phantoms finished December 5-7. Their record of 8-25-2-0 is still the worst in the American Hockey League, but they're slowly creeping to within shouting distance of a few teams.
"That's a pretty darn good improvement," Stewart said. "We do have a lot of young guys, but there's no excuses. Everyone's maturing in the room and that's helping big time."
Loose pucks: Andrew Rowe and Matt Clackson were both healthy scratches. Logan Stephenson played in their place... Newly called-up defenseman Cullen Eddy played for the Phantoms.
Springfield (15-16-1-2) 0 2 0 0 -- 2
Adirondack (8-25-2-0) 1 0 1 1 -- 3
First period -- 1, Adirondack, Kalinski 4 6:31 (SH). Penalties -- Moore, Adk (hooking), 6:21; Tarnasky, Spr (fighting), 9:15; M. Testwuide, Adk (fighting), 9:15; Kubalik, Spr (tripping), 9:40; Ryan, Adk (hooking), 10:25; Eddy, Adk (cross-checking), 12:59.
Second Period -- 2, Springfield, Savard 2 (Goertzen), 13:05; 3, Springfield, Mayorov 9 (Frischmon, Tarnasky), 17:07. Penalties -- D'Alvise, Spr (hooking), 1:16; Rinaldo, Adk (fighting), 14:03; Sestito, Spr (fighting, misconduct), 14:13; Stephenson, Adk (hooking), 17:42.
Third Period -- 4, Adirondack, Moore 3 (Pither, Hamel), 3:18. Penalties -- Sestito, Spr (fighting), 13:39; Bourdon, Adk (fighting), 13:39; Blunden, Spr (roughing), 19:57; Rinaldo, Adk (roughing), 19:57.
Overtime -- None. Penalties -- None.
Shootout -- Springfield 0 (Calvert NG, Mayorov NG, Kubalik NG, Filatov NG); Adirondack 2 (Hamel NG, Ryan G, Moore NG, Wellwood NG, Pither G).
Shots on goal - Springfield 4-11-10-4-0--29; Adirondack 13-9-8-3-1--34.
Power-play opportunities - Springfield 0 / 4; Adirondack 0 / 2.
Goalies - Springfield, LeNeveu 10-9-2 (33 shots-31 saves); Adirondack, Stewart 1-5-0 (29 shots-27 saves).
Referee - Mayer.
A - 3,472.