How Long is a Hockey Game?

how long is a hockey game

Have you ever wondered how long a hockey game is? Since there are three periods in a regular game, you might be surprised to find out that the game can take a few hours to decide a winner. So what makes an average game take so long to finish? Here is the breakdown of how long an average hockey game takes and more.


How Long Do Ice Hockey Games Last?

NHL games consist of 60 minutes of playtime that breaks down into three separate periods. The 20-minute periods don’t include stoppages in play like the puck leaving the ice, or the NHL intermissions, which are fifteen minutes. If the score between both teams is tied, both teams enter a five-minute overtime. If there is no winner after the five-minute overtime, a shootout then decides a winner.


How Long Do Ice Hockey Games Actually Last?

While regulation is sixty minutes across three periods, hockey fans can expect around 2.5 hours of entertainment when watching an NHL game. However, NHL playoff games may take more time due to the commercials and additional overtime periods. So how does a sixty-minute clock turn into 2.5+ hours for a professional hockey game? Here are some of the reasons why the amount of time is closer to 2.5 hours for a hockey game.


  • Intermission between the first and second period / second and third period. The 15-minute intermission allows the Zamboni to clean up the rink to make it clean to skate on for the players.
  • The clock stops when the play is dead, according to a referee. Some examples of a dead puck include a puck leaving the ice, a player getting injured, or an NHL fight between players. Depending on the issue on the ice, you can expect commercial breaks to fill the dead time on TV.
  • Standard TV Timeouts last about two minutes and take place three times during a period. 
  • A penalty takes place that has the NHL player go into the penalty box for their actions.
  • A goalie secures the puck on a shot, which then stops the clock. A faceoff will then presume from that, which adds extra time since the clock stops.
  • Fans throwing items on the ice after a hat trick or celebration
  • A regular-season game that goes into overtime and or a shootout will add extra time to the game clock. Overtime in hockey is similar to extra innings in baseball, but hockey has a clock to speed up the game’s ending.
  • An extra overtime period would occur during the playoffs if the first overtime period did not have a winner.
  • During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the overtime goes to twenty minutes. That means that both teams keep playing twenty-minute overtime games until someone wins.


What is the Longest NHL Game Ever?

The longest NHL game took place in 1936 between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons. The hockey game began at 8:30 PM EST on a Tuesday and ended at 2:25 on a Wednesday morning. A total of 176 minutes and 30 seconds took the place of actual ice hockey game time playing between both teams.


Can Hockey Games End in a Tie?

During the 2005-2006 season, the NHL got rid of tie game opportunities via new overtime rules. That meant that before the 2005 season, fans might have invested hours into a match to see a tie ultimately. NHL teams now continue into a shootout to decide a winner via what team scores with the rule change.


How Long Do Other Professional League Games Take?

The standard hockey time for leagues outside the National Hockey League is 60 minutes. However, the primary difference in time between the leagues is the intermission time. You can expect 15-minute intermission and 17-minute intermissions for the following leagues and levels below.


  • College Hockey Games 60 minutes
  • American Hockey League (AHL) 60 minutes
  • Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) 60 minutes
  • National League (Swiss) 60 minutes
  • East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) 60 minutes
  • Western Hockey League (WHL) 60 minutes
  • Ontario Hockey League (OHL) 60 minutes


How Long Do Other Sports Take?

The regulation time for the NFL is 60 minutes, which is the same as hockey. NBA games consist of 48 minutes, which is less than what the NFL and NHL have. Finally, baseball does not have a clock but takes closer to three hours to finish after you sum up the play and commercials.



Hockey games are always looking for ways to entertain their fans who arrive at the arena for a game. From the warm-up interactions with the fans to the sudden death overtimes in the playoffs, fans can expect to be watching hockey games for many hours. While it is safe to assume that a regular hockey game takes over two hours, playoff games can take even longer.


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