GUELPH, Ont. - The Saginaw Spirit are heading to the playoffs thanks to the recent efforts of Eric Locke.
Locke scored two goals as Saginaw defeated the host Guelph Storm 5-3 on Saturday in Ontario Hockey League action.
The victory clinched a post-season berth for the Spirit (31-27-6), who currently hold the eighth and final position in the Western Conference, while the Windsor Spitfires and Erie Otters will finish on the outside looking in. It's the seventh year in a row that Saginaw has qualified for the playoffs and with four regular-season games remaining, the club could move up as high as sixth based on how the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Sarnia Sting finish.
Locke, who was named an OHL Top Performer for the month of February, has picked up at least one point in 18 of his last 20 games and has 43 goals and 94 points in 64 contests.
Garret Ross had a goal and an assist for the Spirit while Terry Trafford and defenceman Jacob Ringuette scored the others.
Ringuette's goal was his first in 113 games with Saginaw.
Ryan Horvat had a goal and two assists for the Storm (37-22-5) and Tanner Richard and Patrick Watling scored a goal each.
Jake Paterson made 34 saves for the win as Garret Sparks picked up the loss after giving up four goals on 15 shots before getting pulled in the second period. Michael Nishi replaced Sparks and stopped 6-of-7 shots in 24 minutes of relief.
Saginaw went 1 for 4 on the power play while Guelph scored once on four chances with the man advantage.
Storm defenceman Matt Finn left the game late in the second period after receiving a knee-on-knee hit from Spirit forward Justin Kea. Kea was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the hit.