# How Many Periods in a Hockey Game?

In a typical hockey game, there are three periods. Each of these periods is 20 minutes long. If the score is still in a tie after the first 60 minutes of gameplay, the game moves to sudden-death overtime, where the first team who scores wins the game.

Some may be left wondering what adds to the total time of each period. Other fans may also wonder if anything happens in between each period. Have NHL games always been three periods? And what exactly happens if a playoff game is in a tie after the first three periods?

Here is the complete breakdown of how many periods are in a hockey game.

## How Long is Each Period in a Hockey Game?

There are three different periods in a typical hockey game. Each period is 20 minutes long, resulting in three 20-minute periods. When you sum up the total number of minutes during a 3-period match, it is 60 minutes of actual play time.

College and High School hockey is the same as the NHL, where they have three periods at 20 minutes each.

## What Adds to the Total Time of Each Period?

Several stoppages may add to the total time of each hockey period. First, frequent breaks are taken during the game to allow time for commercials on television. Hockey games are jam-packed with action; therefore, advertisers try to take advantage of any break in play to squeeze in some more commercials.

There are also breaks taken during the regulation time for several other reasons. These reasons include when the ice hockey puck leaves the ice and another must be acquired. Also, there are plenty of times that the goalie net comes loose and must have correction before gameplay can continue.

We cannot forget situations during gameplay that result in a stoppage of action. For instance, when a player is injured, time will be paused to ensure that the player is alright or to get him off the ice. If a foul occurs, time must be paused for a penalty shot, which will also add to the total amount of gameplay. Of course, there are also ice hockey fights that can cause a pause in the game clock.

## What Happens Between Each Period During a Hockey Match?

A hockey match has a 15-minute intermission break between the first and second periods. During this time, the hockey players have a chance to rest and hydrate in the locker room. There is another 15-minute intermission taken between the second and third periods.

The Zamboni enters the rink during this intermission to clean the ice surface. During this intermission, there might be some in-game promotion with staff throwing t-shirts into the crowd from the ice. You might even see a performance on the ice, especially if you are catching a Minor League Hockey game.

If the game is in a tie after three regulation periods, there is another 15-minute intermission taken before the start of the overtime period. However, if the game is a playoff game, this intermission is 20 minutes instead of 15.

## What Happens if a Regular Season Game is Tied After the Third Period?

Teams can end the first three periods in a tie during the regular season. When this is the case, each team will choose three players to participate in the overtime period. The overtime period is five minutes of 3-on-3 ice hockey, and the first team that scores wins the game.

However, the five-minute overtime period often passes with no one scoring. This results in three rounds of a shootout. Each team chooses three players to participate in the shootout, and each team shoots once per round. The team that scores the most goals at the end of the three shootout rounds wins the game.

There is also the chance that both teams will score the same goals during the shootout. If this is the case, the shootout continues round by round. The game continues until one team scores during a shootout round, and the other does not.

## What Happens if a Playoff Game is in a Tie After the Third Period?

Overtime rules differ slightly if the game is an NHL playoff game. During the NHL playoffs, if a game ends the first three periods in a tie, the game proceeds to another 20 minutes of overtime.

This overtime period is a 5-on-5 match, and it is also sudden death. This means that the team that scores first will be the winning team. If this 20-minute overtime period ends with no one scoring, the game will continue into a second overtime period with identical regulations. This will continue for however many overtime periods are necessary until someone scores.

## Were NHL Games Always Three Periods?

While the NHL hockey league games have always been made up of three 20-minute periods, there was a time when most hockey players used a different game structure. The National Hockey Association, which later became the National Hockey League, established the three 20-minute periods in 1910.

However, before 1910, the National Hockey Association performed its games under a different structure. During this time, ice hockey games had a two-period structure, and each period was 30 minutes long. While the regulation time for an ice hockey game was ultimately the same, there was less downtime for the hockey players to rest their skates.

## Conclusion: How Many Periods in a Hockey Game?

In conclusion, there are three individual periods in an ice hockey game. Each of these periods consists of 20 minutes of gameplay, though many stoppages may cause the clock to stop, including an offside call or a penalty shot.

In addition to the 20 minutes of actual gameplay in hockey, intermission also takes up the total time to complete a game. These intermissions are each 15 minutes long and allow the players time to rest and the Zamboni time to clean the ice surface. Overtime can also add to how long it takes to complete a hockey match. If it is a regular season game, there will be a shorter overtime period than during a playoff game.

Though professional hockey games have been three periods for as long as anyone can remember, there was a time when there were only two 30-minute periods.

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