Fourth of July '22

Josh Manson scores overtime game-winner for Avs, strives to share God's love

Josh Manson’s first playoff goal was certainly a memorable one. His shot 8:02 into overtime beat St. Louis Blues goalie Jordan Binnington to give the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win in Game 1 of their second-round series Tuesday night.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

The moment did not play out exactly like the grand vision Manson had in his mind, but the highlight was getting to celebrate with his teammates.

“In my dreams, [I scored] like a one-hander or something,” he said while laughing after the game. “It’s not about how I feel, it’s about how the whole team feels. Seeing everybody come at me was the best part.”

And they were coming in fast.

“I was just looking out because there’s a lot of guys coming at me with a lot of speed,” Manson said of the celebration. “It feels good to get that (win) with your team.”

Being his first playoff goal and also an overtime game-winner, Manson said it would have to go down as the No. 1 highlight of his career. He’s a defenseman, so scoring opportunities don’t present themselves often, but Manson has been an asset to the Avs in many other ways since he arrived via trade in March.

“I mean, he has been huge for us,” team captain Gabriel Landeskog said Tuesday night. “He’s big on the penalty kill, he’s a physical presence back there, he’s a calming presence in the room. Just a really good teammate, and you can’t get enough of those.”

Manson was dealt from the Anaheim Ducks to the Avalanche at the trade deadline in an effort to turn Colorado’s regular-season success into a deep postseason run. This is the team’s fifth consecutive playoff appearance, yet it’s failed to get out of the second round in the previous four attempts. The last two eliminations have come despite being the higher seed.

After putting together the best regular season in franchise history, the Avs have opened the playoffs with five straight wins for the second year in a row. They fell behind in the first period Tuesday but scored twice in the second to take the lead. Jordan Kyrou’s goal for St. Louis in the third period sent the game to overtime.

Manson now has two assists to go with his goal this postseason, and he produced seven points in 22 games with Colorado during the regular season.

As he’s found his footing in Colorado, the 30-year-old defenseman has leaned on his faith in Christ. He was introduced to Christianity by his now-wife, who told him her relationship with Christ was central to who she was. That motivated him to start pursuing Jesus, and he started reading books like Josh and Sean McDowell’s “More Than a Carpenter.” Manson decided to give his life to Christ after he finished reading it.

“Mine has been a slow progression of learning and reading more and becoming more interested in it,” he said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in December 2020. “… I’m not to the point where I want to be — I don’t know if anybody is truly — but I have a lot of learning and growing left to do in my journey and I can say that honestly.”

Part of that journey has been learning how to emulate Christ in a sport that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to Christlike behavior. Manson described the changes he’s made in a piece for The Increase in December.

“Once in the NHL, it didn’t take long to realize that the values Jesus taught about — like being kind to your neighbor and all the lifestyle habits you read about in the Bible — are different from what you see in hockey,” he wrote.

The full weight of God’s love did not hit Manson until he had his first child. Becoming a father has given him a new appreciation for the way God cares for His children.

“When I held my baby for the first time, I thought, ‘Wow, this is how Jesus loves me,'” he said in the piece for The Increase. “If my child ever walked away from me and distanced herself, that would make me so incredibly sad. I would want to bring her closer to me. That realization really brought things into perspective for me because I know my Heavenly Father feels the same way about me.”

Game 2 of the Avalanche-Blues series is Thursday night with the puck dropping at 9:30 p.m. ET.

RELATED STORIES:
Josh Manson aims to help Avalanche over playoff hump as he grows in Christ
INCREASE STORY: Surrendering to Christ – Josh Manson
Ducks defenseman Josh Manson balances aggressiveness as he grows in his faith
NEW PODCAST: Josh Manson – Anaheim Ducks Defenseman
WATCH: Blue Jackets head coach Brad Larsen on God changing his life