How Long is a Hockey Game? Game Duration

How Long is a Hockey Game?

Hockey is a whirlwind of speed and strategy, but how long does a game take? This post will explore the breakdown of a hockey game’s duration, diving into the 60 minutes of playing time, stoppages, intermissions, and how these factors combine to create a thrilling 2-2.5 hour experience. So, grab your jersey and get ready to learn about the exciting world of hockey game length! Let’s dive into the intricacies of a hockey game’s duration and explore the factors that contribute to its length.

Hockey, often hailed as one of the fastest and most exhilarating sports, has gained immense popularity worldwide. Played on ice with skates and sticks, it’s a sport characterized by its fast-paced nature and intense physicality. But amidst the excitement, many spectators find themselves pondering the duration of a standard hockey game. Also, read about How many periods in hockey.

Understanding Hockey Game Duration

The duration of a hockey game can vary depending on several factors, including regulation play, overtime periods, shootouts, television timeouts, and injury time. Understanding each of these elements is crucial to grasping the overall length of a game.

Regulation Periods

In a standard hockey game, regulation play consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes of gameplay. These periods are interspersed with intermissions, typically around 15 minutes long, allowing players to rest and strategize for the next period.

Overtime Period

If a game remains tied at the end of regulation, teams proceed to an overtime period. Overtime play consists of sudden-death periods, wherein the first team to score wins the game. The duration of overtime periods may vary depending on league rules and playoff situations.


In some leagues, if overtime fails to produce a winner, the game may be decided by a shootout. During a shootout, each team selects a predetermined number of shooters to attempt to score against the opposing goaltender. Shootouts typically last until one team secures victory or until all designated shooters have taken their shots.

Understanding Hockey Game Duration
Understanding Hockey Game Duration

Television Timeouts

Television timeouts are brief breaks in gameplay specifically designated for broadcasting advertisements. These timeouts occur at predetermined intervals and contribute to the overall duration of a hockey game.

Injury Time

Injuries are an inevitable aspect of any sport, including hockey. When a player is injured during gameplay, the game is temporarily halted to provide medical attention. Depending on the severity of the injury, this can lead to additional time being added to the game clock.

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Strategies for Shortening Games

To address concerns about the length of hockey games, various strategies have been proposed. These include implementing time management techniques, such as reducing stoppages in play and considering rule changes to streamline gameplay.

Historical Context

The duration of hockey games has evolved, influenced by changes in rules, regulations, and fan expectations. Understanding the historical context provides valuable insights into the factors shaping the length of modern-day hockey games.

Comparative Analysis with Other Sports

When comparing the duration of a hockey game to other popular sports like soccer or basketball, hockey often stands out for its shorter gameplay duration. However, the intensity and frequency of stoppages in hockey can make it feel longer to some spectators.

Strategies for Shortening Games
Strategies for Shortening Games

Fan Perspectives

Opinions on the length of hockey games vary among fans. Some appreciate the excitement and unpredictability of longer games, while others prefer shorter, more concise matchups. Understanding these perspectives is essential for leagues seeking to balance game length with fan enjoyment.


In conclusion, the duration of a hockey game is influenced by various factors, including regulation play, overtime periods, television timeouts, and injury time. While efforts have been made to address concerns about game length, it remains an integral aspect of the sport’s appeal. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a casual observer, the thrill of a hockey game transcends its duration, leaving a lasting impression on all who experience it.


How long is a regulation period in hockey?

A regulation period in hockey lasts 20 minutes of gameplay.

Can a hockey game end in a tie?

In regular-season NHL games, if the score remains tied at the end of regulation, the game proceeds to overtime.

How long does an overtime period last in hockey?

The duration of an overtime period in hockey varies depending on league rules and playoff situations.

What happens during a shootout in hockey?

During a shootout, each team selects a predetermined number of shooters to attempt to score against the opposing goaltender.

Why are television timeouts used in hockey?

Television timeouts provide broadcasters with opportunities to air advertisements during breaks in gameplay, contributing to the revenue of teams and leagues.

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