How Long is a Hockey Game? (NHL, College, and Recreation)

How Long is Ice Hockey Game

Ever wondered how and why the thrill of hockey games remains increasing? The fun never ceases to excite you. Why is that so? Because of its time limit! As humans, we become tired and bored of the things that drag on for extended periods. No matter how interesting in the beginning, you will find things monotonous after a time if it fails to give you any pleasurable result.

So, how long is a hockey game? An ice hockey match, in regulation, has a playing time of 60 minutes. This total of 60 minutes is the apparent time generally for an average ice hockey game. However, the average NHL game lasts from 2.5 to 3 hours in real-time, including all the intermissions, stops, possible five-minute overtime period, and shootout.

Well, let’s do a deep breakdown of how long a hockey game actually lasts and what factors into its preparation, warmups, intermission, timeout, and sudden death overtime periods. In addition, we’ll look at the Olympics, college hockey games, the national hockey league, and recreational hockey in real time.

How long do hockey games actually last?

All the national hockey leagues such as NHL, AHL, ECHL, and European leagues games a total of 60 minutes in regulation time. These games are divided into three periods, and each period lasts for 20 minutes in total. This 20 minutes period may increase in case of stoppages or NHL transmissions, which constitute 15 minutes.

How Long Do Ice Hockey Games Actually Last

While a game’s length is affected by a variety of factors, including rule infractions, television timeouts (when commercials are shown), intermissions, overtime, and shootout.

If the match is still tied at the end of regulation time between the teams, then there are 5 minutes of overtime, and if this being tied at the end of overtime still results in no team winning the game, then there is a shootout that determines the winner of that game. In reality, this whole game lasts between 2.5 to 3 hours instead of sixty minutes.

As shown in the chart below, a professional ice hockey game (starting at 7 PM – 19:00):

07:00National Anthem
07:05Puck Drop for the Start of the First Period
07:45First Intermission
08:00Puck Drop for the Start of the Second Period
08:40Second Intermission
08:55Puck Drop for the Start of the Third Period
09:35End of the Game

TIP OF THE DAY: Are you planning to attend a live game in the near future? Arrive 30 minutes before the hockey game starts, and watch the players warm up before kickoff. Even if you don’t have a ticket, arena ushers will allow you to stand behind the glass.

How long are the intermissions between periods?

When every single period ends, there are 15 minutes of intermissions, 17 minutes in the case of the Stanley Cup, during which the Zamboni cleans the ice. There may also be some repairing as needed accordingly by the crew responsible for maintenance. So, 15 minutes after each period are added to the sixty minutes of actual game playtime.

How Long are the Intermissions between Periods

In playoffs, the overtime goes between the first and second periods, third period, and second periods each for 20 minutes in contrast to the overtime of the regular season, where the overtime is of 5 minutes. So, the playoffs have full intermission time between the 3rd period and 1st overtime which is 15 minutes long.

During the regular intermissions, an extra 2 minutes are given to assist the in-house entertainment between periods.

Importance of intermissions

The reason for this intermission and also for the three periods of the hockey game, is that the ice on which the hockey game is being played degrades notably and becomes dangerous for the players to play on; therefore, it is crucial to scrape the surface and clean the ice.

Other reasons for extending the length of NHL game time

Secondly, there are also commercials shown during commercial breaks in between. Since hockey is a greatly loved sport, marketers and advertisers use this opportunity to target more and more people during commercial breaks during this time when people are gathered and focused on the game.

Other Reasons for Extending the Length of NHL Games

The third important reason is the stoppages or the penalties and the injuries etc., which also stop the actual gameplay and increase its time from the prescribed limit. Also, there is a warm-up time before or sometimes in between the match. There may also be a short meet-up time with fans present there, adding up to the regulated time.

Overtime also adds to playtime. Generally, overtime periods in college hockey and minor league may extend to twenty minutes in the playoffs, while they may be of only five minutes in any regular season games. These four are the primary reasons that indicate that hockey and minor league’s actual playtime is around 2.5 hours.

How long is between regulation and overtime?

How Long between Regulation and Overtime

It is essential to note that there is no intermission in case of an overtime period in the regular season of the game. In case of a tie, the game will resume after 2 minutes. The one overtime period will be of 5 minutes. If no team scores during these 5 minutes, the game will move to the shootout.

Length of the game in NHL playoffs

A playoff game does not end with a shootout like in regular games; instead, they run for almost the same regular-game length and time. Usually, the playoff game’s keep going on with 20 minutes periods, including the 15-minute intermission, until one team scores the most.

Length of the Game in NHL Playoffs

What is the longest NHL game ever?

With the determined time as sixty minutes and the actual time as 2.5 hours, you must be wondering how long an average hockey game which was the lengthiest ever NHL hockey game in a minor league in history. This longest game in NHL history took place between the Detroit Red Wings and the Montreal Maroons in 1936. The game lasted for a total of 176 minutes and 30 seconds, from 8:30 pm EST Tuesday to 2:25 Wednesday. The game had six overtime.

The Longest NHL Game Ever

Today Montreal Maroons are no longer a part of the NHL, and much has changed with time.

Can hockey games end in a tie?

In the modern days, NHL games cannot end in a tie because of the new rules adopted by the NHL in 2005. Before this, how many periods of time, it was possible that professional hockey games could end in a tie despite the hours of the match but no more now.

If no team wins the match even after overtime, then a shootout comes into action to ultimately decide neither team scores the winner of the game. The rule is simple; the first team who scores will win the match.

How long do other professional league games take?

Apart from NHL, there are many other professional leagues in which hockey is played. The standard time for all the other national hockey league games is also sixty minutes. The difference in recreational hockey leagues lies in the intermission time, 15 minutes or 17 minutes. The following leagues are mentioned below:

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

Typically, in reality, all these college hockey playoff game’s will also take a total of 2.5 hours to end with a fruitful result. But they usually are shorter than the NHL hockey games because they do not have all the factors which increase the playtime of NHL games, like commercials shown in between.

How long is a recreational or kid’s hockey game?

Recreational games are typically played at a run time, which means that the game clock does not stop even in case of a whistle. So, these games most often end within 60 minutes with an addition of a few more minutes.

How Long is a Recreational or Kids Hockey Game

Generally, a recreational game starts and ends in one hour and 15 minutes added, which includes all the time from warm-up until players leave the ice rink.

There is a thing that all recreational players want to start the game fast whenever it gets paused by the referee. Everyone wants to save precious time instead of waiting for five-minute periods for the puck to drop.

Few leagues take a short stoppage in the end phase of the last game tied at the end so that the leading team won’t waste time with a lot of stoppages.

However, in professional hockey game’s the higher-end leagues have intermission between each period for ice cleaning. These game times last for almost 2 hours. These are the game time when fresh skilled young talent, 15 to 18 years of age, play and have chances to get drafted in the NHL or college and junior leagues.


So, in a nutshell, the article provides a deep insight into how long ice hockey games are. It is essential to know the time limit to adequately plan to watch hockey games and the information to learn. Knowledge bestows upon you a freshness like nothing else in the world can!

Austin Taylor

Who is Austin Taylor?

Meet Austin Taylor, your go-to source for everything ice hockey! With a passion for the sport that’s as deep as the ice itself, Austin Taylor brings you concise, expert insights and nitty-gritty details on all things hockey. From gear reviews to strategy breakdowns, Austin Taylor is your trusted guide to navigating the exhilarating world of ice hockey. Get ready to lace up your skates and dive into the game with Austin Taylor as your ultimate companion.

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