WITH opportunities at a premium, Nolan LaPorte twice thought he had finally landed on his feet through the course of a wretched 2020/21, only to see the carpet swiped from under him on both occasions.

Glasgow Clan’s top points scorer from last season has suffered the misfortune of signing for two teams - ECHL sides Atlanta Gladiators and Toledo Walleye in North America - only to see them decide not to play because of coronavirus concerns.

The situation has become frustrating for the forward, but while he admits the thought of retirement at the age of 28 had crossed his mind, he is not ready to let Covid-19 have a decisive say on his career.

“It’s been a challenging 10 months, especially when you don’t know what’s going to happen or what’s going on in any league,” he said. “My first choice was to return to Glasgow, but that was shut down pretty quickly. I then re-signed in Atlanta, who shut down, then the same in Toledo.

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“Retirement has crossed my mind, but I wouldn’t like something like this to end my career. I want to go out on my own terms so I’m determined to stick it out. I know players have decided to retire and move on, so it may open up opportunities as a result.

“I know there are loads of other players in the same boat and in the ECHL, there are 13 teams playing, with more than half the league sitting out, so you’re talking 20 plus guys per team so it’s a competitive market as we all look for jobs.”

After leaving the Elite League, LaPorte returned to Atlanta Gladiators, from where he joined the Clan, but they pulled out of their season in October. Toledo Walleye came in and snapped him up but after weeks of delay, announced their own withdrawal last Tuesday.

LaPorte moved to Ohio from his Florida home in anticipation of some action, but as weeks went on, took a job with Amazon to bring in money while he waited for the green light to play, a signal that never came.

He is hopeful of getting a call soon that will allow him to finally lace up his skates and play, which would be the first time since Glasgow Clan defeated Dundee Stars in overtime last March.

“I basically need to find a job and it’s been crazy in the last few months,” he said. “It’s not easy to try to stay positive after moving from Florida to Toledo. We moved up here right away as there was no ice in Florida just so I could train.

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“The season kept being put back so I had to stop training and get a job to tide me over. I was getting out of shape, so I needed to get back to concentrating on hockey again. Working for Amazon isn’t what I wanted to be doing. I was treated well, but I needed to be back in hockey again.

“On the upside, I’ve started to get phone calls so I’ve given up the job up so I can find ice in Toledo or Detroit to get training. It’s been absolutely insane, but I’ve got a feeling I could be playing within a couple of weeks so I’ve got my fingers crossed for that.

“There are options for me. Not great options in terms of money or locations, but it’s something. After waiting so long to play, I’d rather have that than nothing at all so I’m grateful for whatever opportunity comes my way.”

Photographs provided by Al Good.