The Saginaw Spirit dropped a 5-2 decision to the London Knights Saturday at the Dow Event Center, but still qualified for the 2015-16 OHL playoffs.
Despite the loss the Spirit were able to secure their eleventh consecutive OHL playoff berth following a Flint Firebirds' 7-2 loss to the Kitchener Rangers at the Dort Federal Event Center Saturday.
Prior to Saturday's games, the Spirit (23-34-5-3) held an 8 point lead (54-46) over Flint (20-39-4-2) who had four games remaining in the 2015-16 regular season.
The Firebirds could have conceivably tied the Spirit for the eighth and final western conference playoff spot. With a better head-to-head record, Flint would have taken the last playoff spot, but that ended with the Kitchener win.
The Knights jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Matthew Tkachuk lit the lamp for his 26th goal of the season at 15:14 of the second period.
The Spirit managed to get on the board after London's Chris Martenet was whistled for hooking at 16:47 of the second. Matthew Kreis scored the power play goal from Artem Artemov and Marcus Crawford at 17:38 of the period.
Connor Brown would round out the Spirit scoring with a power play goal from Mitchell Stephens and Kreis at 15:54 of the third. The OHL goals' leader Christian Dvorak scored his 51st goal of the season, while Tkachuk added an empty netter to cap the Knights' scoring in the third period.
Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier turned away 35 of the 39 shots he faced, while his counterpart Brendan Burke turned away 17 of Saginaw's 19 shots.
The Spirit will travel to Sault Ste. Marie Wednesday for a road game against the Greyhounds before returning to the Dow for their final two games of the 2015-16 regular season against Windsor on Friday and Sarnia Saturday.
The Spirit will then shift the focus to the Erie Otters, their likely first round opponent in the 2015-16 OHL post season.
The Otters (50-14-1) -led by goal tender and Saginaw native Devin Williams- are ranked first in the entire 60 team Canadian Hockey League, but the Spirit hold a 3-1 advantage throughout their four meetings this year.