How Long Do Hockey Games Last: Complete Guide

Ice hockey is a sport that has been played for over a century and remains popular across the world. With its fast-paced action and physical gameplay, hockey games are exciting to watch and can draw in fans who have never seen a game before. However, for those who are new to the sport or unfamiliar with its rules, one of the biggest questions is how long a hockey game lasts. The answer to this question may seem simple, but there are actually many factors that can affect the duration of a game. In this post, we will explore the different aspects of a hockey game and provide a comprehensive guide on how long you can expect a typical game to last.

Overview of a Hockey Game

Rules of a Hockey Game

Rules of a Hockey Game

Hockey is an exhilarating sport that requires skill, strategy, and teamwork. Knowing the rules of the game is essential for players and fans alike. In this section, we will discuss the key rules of a hockey game that every enthusiast should know.

Number of Players in a Hockey Game

Each team in a hockey game consists of six players on the ice at a time: one goaltender, two defensemen, and three forwards. However, teams may also have additional players on the bench to substitute for their teammates during the game.

Duration of a Hockey Game

The standard duration of a professional hockey game is 60 minutes, divided into three periods of 20 minutes each. However, youth and amateur leagues may have shorter game times or different period lengths.

In addition to the three periods, there are two intermissions between the periods. The first intermission takes place after the first period, while the second intermission occurs after the second period.

Overtime Rules for a Hockey Game

If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, a sudden-death overtime period is played. During overtime, the first team to score wins the game. If neither team scores during the overtime period, then a shootout takes place.

In a shootout, each team selects three players to take penalty shots against the opposing team’s goaltender. The team with the most goals scored during the shootout wins the game.

In conclusion, understanding the rules of a hockey game is crucial for enjoying the sport to its fullest. From the number of players on the ice to the duration of the game and the overtime rules, all these elements work together to make hockey an exciting and captivating game.

Structure of a Hockey Game

Structure of a Hockey Game

A typical hockey game is divided into three periods. Each period lasts for 20 minutes, and there are two intermissions or breaks between the periods. The first break usually lasts for 17 minutes, while the second break lasts for 15 minutes. During these breaks, players have the opportunity to rest, hydrate, and strategize with their coaches.

Penalties play an essential role in hockey games and are crucial for maintaining fair play on the ice. A player may receive a penalty for various reasons, such as tripping, slashing, or cross-checking. Penalties can result in the player’s temporary removal from the game, which creates a power play for the opposing team. Power plays give the team a numerical advantage on the ice, and they can use this to score a goal.

Hockey games have different types of penalties, ranging from minor to major infractions. Minor penalties last for two minutes, and during this time, the player must sit in the penalty box, giving the opposing team a power play. Major penalties last for five minutes, and the player is usually ejected from the game. In some cases, the referee may also call a penalty shot if a player commits a foul when someone has a clear opportunity to score.

In conclusion, understanding the structure of a hockey game is crucial for both players and fans. Knowing the duration of each period and the timing of breaks is essential for players to plan their strategies. Similarly, understanding the different types of penalties in the game is necessary for determining the outcome of a match.

How Long is a Hockey Game?

Average Length of a Hockey Game

Average Length of a Hockey Game

The duration of a hockey game can vary depending on the level of play, rules, and regulations. In this section, we will discuss the average length of a hockey game for different levels of play.

NHL Game Duration

In the National Hockey League (NHL), a regulation game lasts 60 minutes, which is divided into three 20-minute periods. However, the actual duration of a game can be longer due to stoppages in play, such as penalties, faceoffs, and injuries. The average NHL game lasts around 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it can go up to 3 hours or more if there are multiple stoppages in play.

If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, an overtime period of 5 minutes is played. If neither team scores during the overtime period, the game goes into a shootout, where each team takes turns shooting on the opposing goaltender. The first team to score wins the game.

IIHF Game Duration

In international ice hockey, such as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments, the duration of a regulation game is also 60 minutes, divided into three 20-minute periods. However, there are some differences between IIHF rules and NHL rules that affect the duration of a game.

For example, IIHF games have a shorter intermission of only 15 minutes between periods compared to the 17-minute intermission in NHL games. Additionally, IIHF games do not have commercial breaks and television timeouts like NHL games, which can add several minutes to the duration of a game. Therefore, the average duration of an IIHF game is slightly shorter than an NHL game, typically around 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Youth Hockey Game Duration

In youth hockey, the duration of a game varies depending on the age group. For example, USA Hockey recommends the following game durations:

  • 8U: two 20-minute halves
  • 10U: three 12-minute periods
  • 12U: three 15-minute periods
  • 14U and older: three 15 or 20-minute periods, depending on the league

The actual duration of a youth hockey game can also depend on factors such as stoppages in play, time-outs, and penalties.

In conclusion, the duration of a hockey game can vary depending on the level of play and rules. NHL games typically last around 2 hours and 20 minutes, IIHF games around 2 hours and 15 minutes, and youth hockey games can range from around 30 minutes to over an hour.

Factors Affecting Hockey Game Duration

Factors Affecting Hockey Game Duration

Hockey games can be unpredictable, and their duration can vary based on several factors. Here are some of the key elements that can influence how long a hockey game lasts:

Stoppage of Play

One of the most significant factors affecting the duration of a hockey game is the stoppage of play. Whenever a player commits a penalty or there is an injury on the ice, the referee stops the clock to ensure players receive proper treatment and to assess penalties. Additionally, goals and other reviews can lead to longer breaks in play, further extending a game’s duration.

Television Timeouts

Television networks play a prominent role in professional hockey, and these providers often demand extended TV timeouts during games. These breaks can last as long as two minutes each, which can add up quickly and contribute to longer overall game times.

Injuries and Penalties

Injuries and penalties can also significantly impact the length of a hockey game. Players who suffer injuries may need to leave the ice for medical attention, leading to stoppages in play. Similarly, penalties can result in players having to sit out for extended periods, making the game shorter for their team while also extending its overall duration.

In conclusion, several factors can affect the length of a hockey game, including stoppages in play, television timeouts, injuries, and penalties. While these elements can make games longer, they are also important to ensure the safety and fairness of the sport. As a fan, it’s essential to understand these factors to better enjoy the excitement and unpredictability of watching a hockey game.



Hockey games are undoubtedly one of the most exciting sports events to watch. From the moment the puck drops, fans are on the edge of their seats waiting for the action to unfold. And while the duration of a hockey game can vary depending on factors such as stoppage of play and penalties, it’s safe to say that you can expect to spend at least two and a half hours watching a full game.

But don’t let the length of the game deter you from experiencing the excitement of a live hockey match. With the fast-paced back-and-forth action on the ice, you’ll hardly notice the time passing by. Plus, there are plenty of breaks in the game for you to grab some food or chat with your friends.

In addition to the on-ice action, attending a hockey game can also provide a unique and memorable experience. From the blaring goal horns to the crowd’s chants and cheers, the atmosphere inside the arena is electric.

So if you’re looking for a thrilling sports event to attend, consider checking out a hockey game. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a newcomer to the sport, you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.
Hockey is a thrilling sport that has captivated audiences for decades. The duration of a hockey game can vary depending on the league, rules and regulations, and other factors, but the average game lasts between two and three hours. Understanding the structure and length of a hockey game is crucial for fans who want to fully enjoy the experience and appreciate the intensity of the sport. In this article, we’ve explored the rules, structure, and duration of a hockey game, as well as the factors that can affect its length. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the game, we hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights into the exciting world of hockey. So next time you tune in, sit back, relax, and enjoy the action-packed ride!

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