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You can take the boy out of hockey, but you can't take hockey out of the boy – even if he's now a country singer.

"I've got the work ethic of being a hockey player," says the one-named Marcel, tucking into his lunch of filet and shrimp at the Nashville Japanese restaurant Goten. "I've got that drive of having to be the best. I've gotta go out and practice and perfect what I do, and just keep getting better and better. That's how you win."

Named after Los Angeles Kings hockey pro Marcel Dionne, he was hitting the ice at age 3. Marcel wound up playing in college and in the professional minor league – that is, until his favorite sport began taking its toll physically.

Only 28, he's had four knee surgeries. Luckily, Marcel had another talent: country music. At age 15, he'd been thunderstruck by Garth Brooks' "Friends In Low Places," and was writing and singing his own songs before too long. So when he decided to hang up his hockey stick, Marcel headed to L.A. to try and break into the music business. After four years of dead ends, he went east to Nashville.

That was the right move. He snagged a record deal in Music City a year ago, and now he's on the radio with "Tennessee," a song inspired by his trips back and forth from California to Nashville while he was trying to get his music heard. He even found a kindred spirit in another young star – Jessica Andrews. "We're in love," he confirms. "We're not rushing anything, though. We're just enjoying each other's company."

The two are also an item professionally; she sings on his upcoming debut album, You, Me And The Windshield, and he co-wrote her new song, "There's More To Me Than You."

Marcel still misses hitting the ice, but these days he's single-mindedly dedicated to music. "I want to get my foot in this door, and I'm not gonna quit until I do," he promises. "I want to do this 20 years from now, and for people to fill stadiums to see me play, just like George Strait.

"I'm gonna do whatever it takes. That's one thing I learned in hockey: You do what it takes!"