How long is a hockey game

How Long Is A Hockey Game


As we all know, there are two kinds of hockey players all over the world. The more famous one is ice hockey, while the lesser-known one is field hockey. So how long does each Hockey game last? Depending on the game, it lasts for about 50 to 70 minutes of playtime. Overall, it would be about two or two and a half hours, including breaks. Let us see in detail the various duration for a game based on its formats:


Duration of Ice Hockey games

Within Ice Hockey, there are plenty of formats. You have the professional American and European leagues as well as college hockey. Then there are also the recreational games – both kids and adults. The professional games (NHL) are the longest, while the kids’ games are the shortest. It also depends on how many quarters in hockey are played etc.


How long is the NHL and other professional games?

How long is a hockey game? All professional ice hockey games have 60 minutes of playtime. This includes the NHL, AHL, ECHL, and the European leagues. But in reality, the overall duration is somewhere from 2.5 to 3 hours.

Each ice hockey game is divided into 3 periods of 20 minutes each. If the teams are tied at the end of game time, then they would play an additional 5 minutes as overtime. But, if they are still tied, a shootout between the teams will follow.

So why are the games stretched to almost double or triple the playtime? Professional games that are broadcast on TV have certain rules and predefined breaks. Let us check out some of them.

  • Ice hockey games that are telecast have a mandatory broadcast of commercials in between. These are called TV timeouts, and each period has two of them.
  • Sometimes when players break the rules due to foul or penalty, there are stoppages.
  • There are the standard intermissions between each period which increase the time further.
  • The overtime and shootouts might happen in case of a tie between teams.
  • Other minor things might include ceremonies like the singing of the national anthem.
  • Playoffs: The overtime is 20 minutes for playoffs instead of 5 minutes. So playoffs go on for a longer duration than normal games.


How long are college hockey games?

The playtime duration of college ice hockey is the same as the professional games i.e., 60 minutes or 3 periods of 20 minutes. The only difference is the TV commercials broadcast during games like the NHL and European leagues.

Other reasons for breaks, such as stoppages, intermissions, and overtime or shootouts are the same as the professional games. Overall, any college ice hockey game would last around 2.5 hours minus the commercial breaks.


How long do recreational or minor league ice hockey games last?

Ice hockey is also played for recreation by neighborhood kids or adults for fun! Many people gather around on a Saturday and have a go on the ice during winter. These games also have playtime as well as a runtime of around 60 minutes. It means that even if the referee blows the whistle, the clock keeps going.

So, the clock only stops for a few minutes between periods, only for warm-ups and stoppages. An average game for both kids and adults goes on for around an hour and fifteen minutes. This is counted starting from the warm-up till the players leave the ice.

In some minor league games, like youth games, there would be stoppage time in the last few minutes of the game. This is to prevent the leading team from wasting time by causing a lot of stoppages and winning.

Sometimes there are stoppages between periods 2 and 3 to clean the ice. Such minor league games typically have 15 to 18-year-olds who are highly skilled. They might have a good chance of getting into junior hockey league or college hockey. These games take a good 2 hours to finish.


Intermissions between periods in professional or college games…

Intermissions between games last between fifteen minutes and thirty seconds to seventeen minutes. The intermission in the NHL is 17 minutes. The first intermissions are between periods 1 and 2. The second intermission is between periods 2 and 3. Here are some of the activities that take place during the intermissions:

  • Some games let local youth hockey teams play for 3 to 5 minutes and showcase their talent to potential scouts.
  • There are sometimes entertainment contests among fans on the ice.
  • The most important reason for such a lengthy intermission is the cleaning of the ice. The Zamboni cleans and smoothens the ice making it good as new.
  • The in-house maintenance also carries out minor repairs of damages during play.
  • Regular intermissions are only 15 minutes. The extra 2 minutes are for in-house entertainment between periods.


Additionally, during playoff season, there is a full intermission between the third period and the first overtime. This is due to the 20-minute overtimes in the playoff games.


The interval between overtime and regulation…

In case of a tie between two teams, the game goes into overtime. During the regular season, there is no intermission between regulation and overtime play. The game continues after two minutes of stoppage. 3-on-3 overtime then begins.


The overall length of the NHL playoff games…

In an NHL playoff, the rules of overtime are not the same as a regular game. The overtime lasts for a full 20 minutes. If no goal is scored even after 20 minutes, then players take a 15-minute break. After that, players go for another round of 20-minute overtime play.

If allowed to go on for extra periods, an overtime playoff game can easily go on for 4 to 5 hours in real-time. The players keep playing till someone scores a goal in any of the overtimes and is no longer tied. Besides, the intermission is also 15 minutes for this reason between period 3 and the first overtime, unlike regular games.


Which is the longest ice hockey game ever played?

The longest ice hockey was played in Canada last year, beating the old record set three years earlier. It was played between February 4th to 15th in Alberta. It was a charity game for the Cure Cancer Foundation. The game lasted for 252 hours and was played by the organizer Brent Saik and 39 other players. It was played at Sherwood Park in Sailer’s Acres.

The 40 players had shifted during the 11 days with 750 refs and scorekeepers volunteer shifts. They constantly kept score of thousands of goals. The final score was 2649 and 2528, with Team Hope beating Team Cure.


Duration of Field Hockey games

Even though less popular than ice hockey, field hockey is an Olympic sport. Its governing body is the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH). Unlike ice hockey, field hockey is played equally by both sexes.


How long are professional field hockey games?

Each game is played for a total of 60 minutes in four quarters. Each quarter is 15 minutes long, with two-minute breaks between quarters. During halftime, the intermission is for 10 minutes. The overall time would be for 74 minutes.


How long do college hockey games last?

College hockey has 70 minutes for each game. It is divided into two halves, each lasting 35 minutes. The halftime break for a college game is for 7 minutes. This makes the overall duration 77 minutes.


How long do High school and Junior-level games go on?

For the junior level and kids from 5 to 12 years old, a field hockey game is played for 50 minutes. It is again divided into two halves of 25 minutes each. For high-school kids, each game lasts for 60 minutes. Their game playtime is also divided into two halves of 30 minutes each.


Delay due to ties, shootouts, and stoppages…

Similar to ice hockey, if there is a tie between the teams, the game goes into overtime or extra time. The extra time consists of two halves. Each half is for seven and a half minutes. The extra time is brought to a stop when a goal is scored.

If the game is still tied after extra time, a penalty shootout follows. In this shootout, five players from each team alternatively take turns to shoot past the goalkeeper. Each player gets eight seconds to score a penalty.

Stoppages usually happen when the ball goes over the backline or sideline. The game has to be restarted in case of such a stoppage. In case of a bully-off or if a player is injured mid-game, the play is restarted as well.



So, how long is a hockey game? On average, the playtime for both field and ice hockey ranges from 50 to 70 minutes. Various formats from professional to junior level games have different durations. But an overall play can go for about an average of 2.5 hours. This includes intermissions, stoppages, ties, and overtimes. For the professional games, we can also include the broadcast time for commercials. So, if you plan to visit any of these games live, plan to keep yourself free for at least 3 hours.

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