How Many Periods Are In A Hockey Game


In a standard ice hockey game, there are typically three periods. Each period is typically 20 minutes of playtime, making a total of 60 minutes of regulation play. However, there may be additional overtime periods in certain situations, such as playoffs, which are sudden-death and continue until a team scores.

How Many Periods Are There In Hockey: Understanding the Basics

We must first understand the sport’s fundamental structure to learn the concept of periods in hockey. Hockey games consist of different time elements called periods. Each period is a fixed span during which the teams compete on the ice. The number of periods can vary depending on the level of play, but the most common format consists of three periods.

Three Periods: The Standard Format

The standard format features three periods in professional leagues such as the National Hockey League (NHL) and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Each period typically lasts 20 minutes of gameplay. Between each period, a break, commonly known as an intermission, allows players to rest, strategize, and regroup before returning to the ice.

Overtime Periods: Breaking the Tie

In some cases, a game may end in a link after the regulation three periods. To select a winner, overtime periods are presented. Overtime provides an exciting game extension as teams battle to score a sudden-death goal. Overtime periods usually last for five minutes. If no goal is scored during this time, the game may proceed to a shootout, where players take turns trying to achieve against the opposing team’s goaltender.

The Standard Number Of Periods In Different Leagues

  • National Hockey League (NHL)

In the National Hockey League (NHL), the highest level of professional hockey in North America, a standard game consists of three periods. Each period is 20 minutes long, making the total duration of the regulation play 60 minutes. However, if the match ends in a tie after regulation, other periods may be played to decide a winner.

  • International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which governs international hockey competitions, follows a similar structure to the NHL. Games are also played in three periods of 20 minutes each, amounting to 60 minutes of regulation play. Other periods may be played in case of a tie.

  • College and University Hockey

In college and university hockey, the number of periods can vary. Typically, games have three periods, reflecting the NHL and IIHF. However, some clubs or games may have different regulations, such as playing with two halves instead of three periods.

  • Other Leagues and Variations

While the standard number of periods in most hockey leagues is three, there are variations in certain companies and games. For example, in some recreational or unprofessional companies, games may be played in two periods instead of three. These variations aim to adjust different levels of play and time rules.

How Long Are Periods in Hockey?

The duration of periods in hockey can vary depending on the level of play. In professional leagues like the NHL, periods last for 20 minutes each. However, periods may have different lengths in other companies or tournaments, such as college hockey or minor league hockey. It’s essential to consult the rules and rules of the company or game you’re interested in to select the exact duration of periods.

How Many Quarters in Hockey?

Unlike sports like basketball or football, which are separated into quarters, hockey is divided into periods. The number of periods can vary, but the standard format for most levels of play, including professional leagues, consists of three periods.

How Long Are Hockey Intermissions?

Intermissions in hockey are the breaks between periods, allowing players to rest and regroup. The duration of intermissions can vary depending on the level of play and the league or game’s rules.

In professional leagues like the NHL, intermissions generally last around 15 minutes. However, intervals may be shorter or longer in other companies or events. It’s important to check the specific rules of the game or occasion you’re attending to know the duration of intermissions.

Does Hockey Have Overtime?

Yes, hockey has overtime periods. Overtime is introduced to select a winner if a game ends in a tie after the last three periods.

Overtime periods provide an exciting game extension as teams struggle to score a sudden-death goal. The duration of overtime periods can vary depending on the league or tournament.

In most cases, overtime lasts for five minutes. If no goal is scored during this time, the game may proceed to a shootout, where players take turns attempting to achieve against the opposing team’s goaltender.

How Many Periods in A Hockey Playoffs?

Hockey playoffs, also known as the postseason, naturally follow the same structure as the regular season. In professional leagues like the NHL, playoff games have three periods, each lasting 20 minutes.

However, it’s worth noting that the power and stakes of playoff games often lead to a higher level of play and increased overtime. So, while the number of periods remains the same, the duration of the playoffs can be extended due to additional overtime play.

How Many Periods Are in a Hockey Match?

In a standard hockey match, there are generally three periods regardless of the level of play. Each period allows teams to showcase their skills, tactics, and strategies. The duration of each period may vary depending on the league or tournament, with the most common time being 20 minutes.

How Many Periods Are There in a Hockey Overtime?

Overtime in hockey is an exciting game phase when the regular three periods end in a tie. The number of periods in hockey overtime can vary depending on the league or tournament rules. In most cases, only one overtime period lasts for five minutes. The game may proceed to additional overtime periods or a shootout to decide the winner if no team scores during this period.

How Many Periods in Ice Hockey Stanley Cup?

The Stanley Cup is the ultimate prize in professional hockey, awarded to the team that wins the NHL playoffs. The structure of the Stanley Cup playoffs follows the standard format with three periods per game. Each period lasts for 20 minutes, and in the event of a tie after regulation play, overtime periods are added to select the winner.

How Many Periods in Minor League Hockey?

Minor league hockey, like the AHL (American Hockey League) or ECHL (East Coast Hockey League), generally has the same structure as professional leagues. Therefore, the standard format includes three periods of 20 minutes each. However, it’s important to note that certain variations may exist depending on the specific rules and regulations of the minor league in question.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.  Are there any variations in international hockey?

Internationally, the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) governs the sport and organizes major tournaments such as the Winter Olympics and the Ice Hockey World Championship. In IIHF-sanctioned events, the three-period format remains standard, following the guidelines established by professional leagues.

2.  Can periods be longer or shorter in certain circumstances?

Although the 20-minute duration is prevalent, exceptional circumstances may lead to variations in period length. For instance, during special events or exhibition games, organizers might introduce shorter periods to accommodate multiple games within a limited timeframe.

3.  Do all levels of hockey have three periods?

While the three-period format is common in professional and higher-level hockey, it’s important to consider that lower levels of the sport may feature different structures. Youth leagues or recreational games might adopt shorter periods or modified rules to accommodate the players’ age and skill level.

4.  How many periods are in hockey nhl playoffs?

Hockey playoffs, including the prestigious Stanley Cup playoffs, consist of the same three-period format as the regular season. However, overtime periods may be added to determine a winner in case of a tie, making the duration of playoff games potentially longer.

5.  How long are hockey intermissions during the Stanley Cup playoffs?

The intermissions during the Stanley Cup playoffs are typically around 17 minutes, providing players with adequate rest and allowing fans to enjoy the thrilling atmosphere of the game.

6.  Are there any unique rules associated with overtime periods in the Stanley Cup playoffs?

In the Stanley Cup playoffs, overtime periods follow the same rules as the regular season. The sudden-death format applies, where the first team to score a goal wins the game. If no goal is scored during the initial overtime period, additional overtime periods are played until a winner emerges.


Now that you have a comprehensive understanding of how periods are structured in hockey, as well as additional information about overtime, playoffs, intermissions, and minor league play, you’re well-equipped to enjoy the game to its fullest. 

Whether you are watching a professional NHL game, attending a minor league match, or following the excitement of the Stanley Cup playoffs, you can appreciate the structure and dynamics of the game.

Remember, the standard format consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, with the possibility of overtime if needed. So, sit back, cheer on your favourite team, and immerse yourself in the thrilling world of hockey!

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