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Spartans have new coaches, release statement

The Southern Oregon Spartans have hired two interim coaches to handle the hockey team in the wake of a drug incident that rocked the franchise as it prepared for its first foray into the NorPac playoffs.

Head coach and general manager Steve Chelios resigned on Sunday following the arrest of assistant coach Erik Hamlet, who last week reportedly tried to mail 20 pounds of marijuana to New Jersey. According a statement released by the team today, Hamlet has been suspended without pay.

The team brought in Richard Klapko, who has 40 years of hockey experience as a player and coach. He's been with Cutting Edge Hockey Academy in Michigan most recently, but also has experience as a collegiate assistant coach and at the Junior A Tier III level.

Klapko will be joined Wednesday by another coach who was with Puget Sound of the NorPac for part of this season.

Southern Oregon hosts the Eugene Generals at 7:30 tonight at The Rrrink. It's the first of a best-of-five series.

Here's the statement the team released today:

"The Southern Oregon Spartans are shocked and saddened by the events of last Saturday. The ownership has suspended Erik Hamlet without pay pending the outcome of this investigation. Erik Hamlet acted alone and we are not aware of anybody else in the Spartan organization being investigated by the police. Our organization is cooperating with authorities at this time.

"Head coach Steve Chelios has offered his resignation. This was done for personal reasons entirely unrelated to this investigation. It deeply saddens the ownership to accept his resignation at this time. The Spartans will be entering the playoffs with interim coaching to be announced.

"The fans of Southern Oregon have been tremendous for this team. Please come and show your support through the playoffs."

— Tim Trower