The Charlotte blue line was dealt a big blow this weekend, losing a substantial piece in Haydn Fleury.

Fleury was tripped up behind the net in the second period of Sunday’s loss to Iowa and went awkwardly into the boards. The rookie headed straight to the locker room and did not return for the remainder of the contest.

Now, after a day off yesterday, Fleury’s status for at least the near future is clearer.

“He is not coming on the road trip,” said head coach Ulf Samuelsson. “He’s got an upper-body injury and he’ll be week-to-week.”

To make up for that loss, the Checkers have tapped two blue liners from the Florida Everblades in Josh Wesley and Kevin Raine.

Wesley spent a sizeable chunk of this season with the Checkers, more often than not serving as the team’s healthy extra. The rookie has only appeared in one game with Charlotte thus far, but has put together a strong campaign with Florida, recording four points in eight games.

Raine, a third-year pro, heads to the AHL for the first time this season after playing in 17 games for the Everblades. The 23-year-old brings with him a sizeable amount of AHL experience, with 117 games at this level under his belt. He also carries a winning pedigree, having spent the majority of that time in the Kings organization and winning a Calder Cup with Manchester two seasons ago.

With a grueling road trip rapidly approaching, the need for the Checkers to fill in their back end was urgent, so the coaching staff had to use their resources to make a quick call on their best option.

“They both had good training camps and had good showings in our exhibition games,” said Samuelsson of Wesley and Raine. “I know the coach down in Florida is happy with their play. He feels confident that they can step in and play for us.”

The addition of Wesley and Raine gives the Checkers some options on the blue line heading into the six-game road trip. A big question mark will be Ryan Murphy, who remains with the Checkers on a conditioning stint, but could be recalled back to the Hurricanes at any time, as well as Trevor Carrick, a non-participant in this morning’s practice whose status is unclear. Given the length and distance of the trip, carrying eight defensemen gives the team a bit of flexibility.

Some other news and notes from this week:


Similar to their defense, the Checkers’ offense had several holes in need of filling before taking off for a road swing.

Samuelsson confirmed that neither Connor Brickley nor Patrick Dwyer will be joining the team on the trip to California. That, combined with the ongoing recovery of Brendan Woods, forced the Checkers to reload up front.

Instead of going to Florida as they did on the defensive side, the team decided to go the PTO route, inking Cason Hohmann and Kris Newbury to professional tryout contracts.

The two newest additions to the offense offer a fairly wide range of talents in terms of what they can bring to the Checkers.

Newbury is in his 14th pro season and has carved out quite the career in the AHL. The 34-year-old has accumulated 567 points over his 788-game career thus far, the second-highest total among active AHLers, as well as 1,806 penalty minutes, good for 15th all time.

Fresh off a 14-game stint in Bakersfield that saw him record five points, Newbury brings a veteran presence to a team that has seen its fair share of shakeups this season.

“I’ve seen him in the past,” said Samuelsson. “He’s a hard player to play against, but he also adds quite a bit of skill. Hopefully we can get him in here and helping out right away.”

Hohmann, on the other hand, is in just his second year as a pro. The 23-year-old showed his offensive flair as a rookie in the ECHL, tallying 57 points in 59 games to lead the Elmira Jackals in scoring.

Now, after a hot start with the Orlando Solar Bears this season, he’s ready to bring that talent to the next level.

“I’m a smaller forward but I bring a lot of speed and a lot of energy to a team,” said Hohmann. “I like to work really hard and make plays for my teammates out there, that’s my kind of game. I set up the guys and get the puck and play make out there. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Hohmann, who joined the team last week but sat as a healthy extra in both games against Iowa, has quickly caught the eyes of the coaching staff.

“Hohmann is a very skilled player, he looked good in practice today,” said Samuelsson. “He has some skill that we can use on the power play, so hopefully he will get a chance to show off there.”

The Texas native made a brief appearance in the AHL as a rookie last year, going scoreless in three games with the Rochester Americans. Already a proven weapon in the ECHL, Hohmann will have to make the jump to the AHL that can be bigger than imagined.

“I think what separates those two leagues is just the speed and the decision making,” said Hohmann. “Guys up here don’t hardly ever turn the puck over as much as they do in the Coast. It’s about good decisions at the blue lines, getting the puck deep and not turning over the puck in bad areas.”

With the Checkers starved for offense as of late, Newbury and Hohmann will likely be looked at to provide some sort of spark. Both forwards appear to be more than capable of contributing right away, but the key will be to not try to do too much at once, at least for Hohmann.

“I’m just going to go out there and do my very best,” said Hohmann. “I don’t want to get too much in my head and get too nervous. Just go out there and do what I can to help the team win and see where it goes from there. I’m not looking to do anything out of my skill set or my ability, just trying to go out there and do what I can to help the team win.”


After a quick practice this morning, the Checkers are on their way to California, where they will kick off what could be one of their toughest stretches of the season.

Over the next two weeks, the team will face Stockton, Bakersfield and Ontario twice each. The Checkers did not play Stockton or Bakersfield in their inaugural seasons last year, and haven’t faced a Calgary or Edmonton affiliate since 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively. They did play Ontario last season, splitting the four-game series, but prior to that hadn’t played a Los Angeles affiliate since 2010-11.

That unfamiliarity adds another wrinkle to the tough road trip.

“It’s a little bit of a challenge,” said Samuelsson. “We just have to do our homework and have the team prepared so they’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses. But it shouldn’t be that much of an adjustment.”

The trip is a bit unorthodox in that the Checkers won’t be facing any of the three teams in back-to-back scenarios. They will play the Heat on Wednesday followed by the Condors and Reign on Friday and Saturday before repeating the same routing the next week.

That makes for a difficult string of travel, and given the compact nature of the team’s schedule as of late, that will mean some decisions from the coaching staff in order to put the best team on the ice.

“When you get travel like we do there, it’s in and out, in and out,” said Samuelsson. “Long bus rides, so you’re facing the work to rest ratio and sleep and all those things. Those play in more. And unfortunately we’re missing some practice days just because we have to make sure that they’re ready to go and fresh.”

Last year’s California trip was highly successful for Charlotte, as they went 5-0-1 and kept the team’s best stretch of the season alive. After an up-and-down last few weeks, a replication of that would go a long way.