EDMONTON — Canadian country singer Brett Kissel, decked out in an Oilers jersey and carrying a guitar, stepped onto the ice at Rogers Place on Sunday night to sing the "Star-Spangled Banner" before Edmonton's NHL playoff game against the Anaheim Ducks.
But as he began to sing it, no one could hear him.
"I'm thinking to myself, 'You've got to be kidding me! Is this for real?' And that's when the nerves set in," Kissel recounted Monday.
After two tries, he threw his hands in the air to conduct the crowd, who obliged by bellowing out, "Oh, say can you see . . "
"There was this split second of worry, but the reality is there was no Plan B," Kissel told The Canadian Press. "So it was either going to work or it wasn't."
And did it ever work.
On Monday, international response grew and Kissel, who hails from Flat Lake, Alta., gave interviews to CNN and TMZ. Even Ducks owners Henry and Susan Samueli issued a statement congratulating Edmonton fans.
"To hear the audience passionately sing both the Canadian and the United States anthems was inspiring and powerful," they wrote. "Well done Edmonton!"
Kissel's quick thinking and the enthusiastic response from Oilers fans drew approval from hockey players, too.
"Brett knew the mic was gone. As an American, for a Canadian to sing the national anthem was pretty special to me," Oilers forward Patrick Maroon said. "Certainly got me going. That was pretty cool."
After the "Star-Spangled Banner," Oilers anthem singer Robert Clark gestured with his microphone for the crowd to continue the a capella performance with O Canada.
"I didn't realize, to be quite honest, that it was a mic problem," Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said.
"I thought it was a 'Hey, let's get everybody involved' and as it turns out, a glitch can produce a great moment. The people of Edmonton showed their respect to our neighbours down south."
TV viewers were able to hear Kissel and many were confused by what had transpired, wondering why he'd stopped singing.
Kissel credits Ron MacLean and the Hockey Night in Canada panel for explaining what had gone wrong.
Kissel, who's staying with relatives in the Edmonton area while he and his wife await the arrival of a baby, said he didn't realize how cool the event was until he'd returned to his seat to watch the game. His brother, who was monitoring social media, noticed the story was taking off.
"I don't know if there are many teams in the 30 teams in the National Hockey League that would be able to do what Edmonton and the Oilers did last night. My cowboy hat goes off to them," Kissel said.
It's not the first time the country singer has faced challenges while singing an anthem. His first was for an Oilers game at the team's old home, Rexall Place, where the echo threw him off so much that he sang very, very slowly.
A later performance before a WWE wrestling event in Ottawa got off to a rocky start when, as he stepped to the microphone and took a deep breath, a large man in the front shouted, "You suck!"
The glow the anthems produced was short-lived at Rogers Place. The Ducks scored 25 seconds after the opening faceoff and went on to win 6-3.
Edmonton leads the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal 2-1. Game 4 is at Rogers Place on Wednesday.
Kissel is scheduled to sing at the game, but said his wife is overdue, so there's a possibility he may not make it.
"We've got plans for a lengthy sound check and rehearsal on Wednesday for Game 4."
— With files from Donna Spencer
Rob Drinkwater, The Canadian Press