How Long is the Ice Hockey Game? Minutes & Length


Hockey, a fast-paced and exciting sport, has captivated fans worldwide for decades. One of the common questions people ask is, How many minutes is a full-length hockey game? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of hockey game duration, covering different levels of play, factors affecting game time, and the official rules. By the end of this article, you’ll have a profound understanding of the time it takes to complete a hockey game.

How many minutes is a full-length hockey game?

A standard hockey game comprises several periods, each with its unique duration. Generally, at the professional level, a hockey game lasts around 60 minutes. However, this timing can vary depending on the league, level of play, and any potential overtime periods.

Understanding the Period Structure

In most hockey leagues, games consist of three periods. These periods are commonly 20 minutes long each, making up the total 60 minutes of regular playtime. During each period, players battle it out on the ice, trying to score goals and defend their net.

Intermissions and Breaks

In between the periods, there are intermissions, which provide players with a brief rest period. These intermissions typically last around 15 minutes, allowing players to recharge, rehydrate, and discuss strategies with their coaches. Intermissions are also a great time for fans to grab a snack or use the restroom.

Overtime: When the Game is Tied

In some cases, particularly during playoffs or critical games, the score may be tied at the end of regulation time. In such situations, a sudden-death overtime period is introduced to determine the winner. Overtime periods are shorter, usually lasting 5 to 10 minutes, and the first team to score wins the game.

Factors Affecting Game Time

Several factors can influence the overall duration of a hockey game:

1. Penalties and Power Plays

When players commit fouls or violations, they may be penalized and sent to the penalty box. These penalties can lead to power plays, where one team has an advantage with more players on the ice. During power plays, the clock continues to run, but the penalized player must remain off the ice for the duration of the penalty.

2. Stoppage of Play

Stoppage of play occurs when the game is paused due to various reasons, such as injuries, broken equipment, or reviewing a disputed goal. These stoppages can add extra minutes to the overall game time.

3. Television Timeouts

In professional hockey games, there are scheduled TV timeouts to accommodate broadcasting needs. These timeouts can extend the duration of a game but also offer an opportunity for players to catch their breath.

4. Overtime Periods

As mentioned earlier, overtime periods are necessary when the game is tied at the end of regulation time. Depending on the intensity of play, multiple overtime periods may be required to determine the winner.

Official Rules Governing Game Time

The National Hockey League (NHL), the most prominent professional hockey league, follows strict guidelines regarding game time:

1. Regular Season Game Length

In the NHL regular season, games consist of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, for a total of 60 minutes of regulation time.

2. Playoff Game Length

During the NHL playoffs, the game structure remains the same, but overtime periods can continue until a team scores the winning goal.

3. All-Star Games

All-Star games usually have a slightly different format, with shorter periods and more emphasis on entertainment.


How Long is an Actual NHL Game?

A standard NHL game consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes of actual playing time. However, when accounting for stoppages, commercial breaks, and penalties, the total duration extends significantly. On average, an NHL game typically takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete

Each period commences with a face-off at centre ice, and the clock runs continuously except for stoppages, such as goals, penalties, or timeouts. These breaks provide teams with opportunities to strategize and catch their breath, making the game even more dynamic. However, the actual playing time remains 60 minutes, with the clock stopping during the occurrence of a stoppage.

How Long Does the Average NHL Playoff Game Last?

The NHL playoffs intensify the competition, and players give their all to secure victory for their teams. The playoff format is similar to the regular season, with three periods of 20 minutes each. 

However, the stakes are higher, and teams might go into overtime if the score remains tied at the end of the third period.

During the playoffs, if a game goes into overtime, the format changes to sudden death, meaning the first team to score wins the game. As a result, playoff games can vary in duration. While some end within the regular three periods, others might extend well into overtime, adding another layer of suspense and excitement for fans.

How Many Hours Does a Hockey Game Last?

Considering the average duration of an NHL game, which is around 2 hours and 20 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, a typical hockey game lasts between 2 to 2.5 hours. However, this duration is subject to change, especially during intense matchups, where additional periods are required to determine the winner.

Additionally, factors such as the number of stoppages due to penalties, injuries, and timeouts can influence the overall duration of a hockey game. Regardless, fans often find themselves engrossed in the game, cheering for their favourite teams and players throughout the entirety of the event.

How Long is the Longest NHL Game?

One of the most epic and unforgettable moments in hockey history is the “Mystery Game” that occurred during the 1936 Stanley Cup playoffs between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons. This game holds the record for being the longest NHL game ever played. The match went into an astounding six overtime, with a total playing time of 176 minutes and 30 seconds!

The game ended with a goal from Mud Bruneteau, securing a 1-0 victory for the Detroit Red Wings. This remarkable feat highlights the endurance and determination displayed by players during these marathon games, etching their names into hockey folklore.

How Long is an Intermission in the NHL?

In the NHL, the intermissions between periods are crucial for both players and fans. The standard intermission lasts for 17 minutes, providing teams with an opportunity to rest, hydrate, and discuss strategies with their coaches. Meanwhile, fans use this time to grab refreshments and engage in various activities available at the arena.

Why are Hockey Intermissions 18 Minutes?

Though the standard intermission in the NHL is often referred to as 17 minutes, it is commonly rounded up to 18 minutes. This additional minute accounts for any possible delays and ensures that teams and players have ample time to regroup before the start of the next period.

Do NHL Players Eat After a Game?

Nutrition plays a vital role in an athlete’s performance and recovery. After a game, NHL players often have access to post-game meals or snacks in the locker room to refuel their bodies. Proper nutrition helps replenish energy stores and aids in muscle recovery, allowing players to bounce back for their next game.

Is There a Halftime in Hockey?

Unlike sports such as football or soccer, hockey does not have a halftime. Instead, the game is divided into three periods, each separated by intermissions. The absence of a halftime break contributes to the fast-paced nature of the sport, keeping fans on the edge of their seats throughout the entire game.

Are youth hockey games shorter in duration?

Yes, youth hockey games are generally shorter than professional games. Depending on the age group, games can range from 10-minute stop-time periods to 15 or 20 minutes running time.

Can a hockey game end in a tie?

In regular-season NHL games, if the score is tied at the end of the third period, a five-minute overtime period follows. If no team scores during overtime, the game ends in a tie.

Can a penalty end before the full two minutes?

Yes, a minor penalty (two minutes) can end if the opposing team scores during the power play.

Do shootouts affect the game duration?

Yes, if the score is still tied after the overtime period in the NHL regular season, a shootout takes place. Shootouts involve three skaters from each team taking penalty shots to determine the winner.


In conclusion, the duration of a hockey game can vary depending on several factors. A standard game consists of three 20-minute periods, with intermissions between each period. 

Penalties, stoppage of play, and overtime periods can add time to the game, making it more exhilarating for players and fans alike. The official rules, such as those set by the NHL, ensure that games are fair and enjoyable to watch

Whether you’re a seasoned hockey enthusiast or a newcomer to the sport, knowing how long a hockey game lasts enhances your overall appreciation for this dynamic and thrilling sport

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