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How Long Is A Hockey Game || Best Game Length Guide

how long is a hockey game

When discussing the duration of sports events, a common question arises: how long is a hockey game? Given the variable complexity of the impact of different factors on game length, the answer is more complex than one might think. In this article, we delve deep into the world of hockey to explore not just the official timing but also the elements that extend the duration of a game. Understanding how long is a hockey game lasts is essential for fans planning to attend matches viewers scheduling their watch times, and players preparing for the physical demands of the sport. 

Many  hockey  enthusiasts showcase their team spirit with unique  Hockey trading pins , exchanging them during games as  a  cherished tradition that adds to the excitement of the sport.

how long is a hockey game

Hockey Game Basics

To grasp how long is a hockey game is one must first understand the basic structure of a hockey match. Typically, a game is divided into three periods each lasting 20 minutes with a 15-minute intermission between periods. However, the clock only runs when the puck is in play. It stops for whistles penalties, and goals. This timing mechanism means that the actual elapsed time of a game is longer than the 60 minutes of playtime. On average length of a hockey contest can range from two to a half hours depending on the frequency of stoppages and the specific league’s regulations.

Ice Hockey vs NHL Hockey

The question of how long is a hockey game can have different answers when comparing ice hockey to NHL (National Hockey League) games. While the basic time structure remains the same, three 20-minute periods, the NHL incorporates additional aspects that can extend the game length. For example, the league has specific rules for TV timeouts, which are absent in all ice hockey games. Furthermore, the pace of the match the efficiency of the arena’s operations, and even the broadcasting requirements can influence how long an NHL hockey game lasts. On average, NHL games are slightly longer than amateur or non-professional ice hockey games.

Overtime and Playoffs

Overtime and playoffs introduce another layer of complexity to how long is a hockey game can last. In the regular season if a game is tied at the end of the third period the NHL and many other leagues use an overtime period followed by a shootout if necessary which adds potential time to the game. The length of overtime can vary. The NHL uses a sudden-death format that lasts up to five minutes in the regular season and potentially unlimited periods in the playoffs. This variability means that playoff games can last significantly longer than regular-season games with some extending into multiple overtime periods making how long is a hockey game is in the playoffs a matter of how evenly matched the teams are.

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Warmups and Cool Down

While not part of the official game time, warmups and cool-down sessions are critical to the hockey experience. Teams usually take the ice for warmups approximately 30 minutes before the game starts. Although this period is not counted towards how long is a hockey game is crucial for players to prepare their bodies for intense physical activity. Similarly, cool-down practices though less formal and less structured than warmups are essential for athlete recovery post-game. While peripheral to the actual playing time, these periods contribute to the total time players and fans spend focused on the game.

Injuries Penalties and Commercial Breaks

The Injuries penalties, and commercial breaks significantly affect how long is a hockey game lasts. Injuries can stop play for several minutes especially if a player requires on-ice treatment or stretcher removal. Penalties lead to stoppages that, while brief accumulate throughout a game. Commercial breaks particularly in professional leagues like the NHL are built into the game’s structure. With set breaks occurring after the 14, 10, and 6-minute marks of each period provided play is stopped. These factors unpredictable yet integral to the game add time to the clock, making the duration of how long is a hockey game is variable.


In conclusion, how long is a hockey game depends on several factors including the league, whether it is a regular season or playoff game, and unforeseen events like injuries or extended reviews. The standard three-period structure sets the foundation. But the actual elapsed time of a match usually extends beyond 60 minutes of playtime. Each element plays a part in defining the hockey experience from warmups to overtime. For fans players, and officials alike understanding how long is a hockey game lasts helps in planning and preparation ensuring that the love for the game continues to thrive across periods, overtime, and seasons.


How long does a typical hockey game last?

A typical hockey game lasts about two to a half hours, including three 20-minute periods and intermissions.

What factors can extend the length of a hockey contest?

Factors like overtime shootouts, injuries, and commercial breaks can extend the duration of a hockey game.

How long are the intermissions in the Length of a hockey contest?

Intermissions in a hockey game are typically 15 minutes long occurring between each of the three periods.

How does overtime work in hockey, and how does it affect game length?

In the regular season, if a game is tied, the NHL uses a 5-minute sudden-death overtime period followed by a shootout if necessary. In playoffs, overtime periods are 20 minutes and continue until a goal is scored potentially extending the game significantly.

Are NHL games longer than other hockey games?

NHL games can be slightly longer than other hockey games due to additional factors like TV timeouts and pace.

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