How Long Do Hockey Game Last? Best Game Length Guide

how long are nhl games

Wondering how long is a hockey game? This question is common in those interested in the sport, especially newbies. Knowing the actual length of a hockey game can help players and viewers alike plan their schedules ahead of time. Hockey is an exciting and full-of-energy sport that many people around the world like to watch. The crush of goals and the sound of skates always make matches thrilling.

So, are you just curious about how long the game lasts? Or are you invited to attend a game and need to plan? Regardless of the case, you have landed on the right post. Today, we will tackle the question of how long an NHL hockey game is and take a look at the factors affecting their duration.

Duration of an NHL Game

NHL games usually consist of three periods, each lasting a minimum of 20 minutes. This results in a regulation playtime of 60 minutes. Additionally, there is an intermission break that lasts 15 to 20 minutes after the first and second periods. Therefore, it’s important to note that while gameplay itself takes an hour, other factors can extend the time for NHL games.

A regular NHL game, considering all the breaks and pauses, goes on for about 2-2.5 hours. So, you might need approximately 2-3 hours if you plan to watch a hockey long are nhl games

How Long Is a Hockey Game on TV?

Do you plan to watch the NHL games on TV or online? Then, you must know how lengthy they will be to schedule accordingly. During the match, scheduled breaks known as television timeouts occur, each lasting about 2 minutes. These timeouts occur thrice each period, so if you’re watching the game on TV, you can expect around 18 minutes dedicated solely to advertisements.

Additionally, there are instances when the game stops temporarily. These instances can occur due to situations like icing, offside calls, penalties, injuries, or even issues with the ice itself. Combining all these pauses amounts to approximately 15 minutes of stoppage time throughout a typical game. Therefore, considering both the scheduled breaks and stoppages in play, you should allocate 2 hours and 10 minutes, or approximately 130 minutes, for a complete hockey viewing experience on TV.

How Long Are Different Types of Hockey Games?

Hockey games come in different lengths. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Regular Ice Hockey: Usually, it’s 60 minutes. But things can change during the game.
  • Younger Players (Recreational): For younger hockey players, the game is shorter. They can take anywhere between 36 to 42 minutes.
  • College Hockey: These games are also 60 minutes, split into three 20-minute parts. If the game ties up, there’s a five-minute sudden-death overtime.
  • International Games: They’re kind of like regular games but can be a bit different at times.

What Things Affect the Duration of a Hockey Game?

Now that you know how long NHL games are, let’s look at what other factors can affect the duration of matches. Some of these factors include:

  • Penalties

When a player messes up in the game, they might get a penalty based on the severity of their mistake. What happens when the whole team gets one? Well, they start their next turn with less than five players on the field.

Penalties happen for different reasons, like interfering with others, hitting too hard, tripping, or bad behavior. When referees give penalties, the game clock keeps running. In case many occur, they may extend the game’s usual duration.

  • Intermissions

A hockey game has three periods, each lasting for 20 minutes. Usually, between the three periods, there are two intermissions. This break is vital for various reasons. First, it gives players a chance to rest. Why? A hockey game is tough on players’ bodies. Therefore, they need to take breaks regularly. Secondly, breaks give the organizers time to clean up the ice and remove any debris. They usually use a Zamboni or ice resurfacer machine to make the ice clean and safe again.

Also, breaks are an excellent time for commercials, which help the team and the league make money. Intermissions are also crucial for the fans, as they provide time for them to grab some snacks or use the bathroom. Therefore, intermission affects how long a game will last. In NHL games, intermissions are usually 17-18 minutes, while in youth games, they last for 12 long are nhl games

  • Injuries

As mentioned above, NHL games can be tough on players. Injuries are always likely to happen. Hockey is a super physical sport where players constantly bump into each other, trip, or crash against the rink’s walls. The danger increases with sharp ice skates strapped to their shoes, capable of cutting through protective gear.

When a player gets seriously hurt, the game clock pauses for safety reasons. Medical professionals rush in and take the player outside the field if necessary. The game resumes after the injured player is off the field or declared fit. For minor injuries, though, the game clock keeps ticking. Given the brutal nature of hockey, multiple injuries can occur. Thus, a game extending over its usual time is not infrequent.

  • Overtime Possibility

This factor is another major one that determines how long a game lasts. During an NHL game, if the score of the two teams ties at the end of regular time, they have to play for overtime. In hockey, overtime is usually 5 minutes. Each team plays with four players during this period instead of the usual five. Additionally, there are no intermissions during this phase.

What happens if the tie isn’t broken? The game goes into a shootout. During this tie-breaking period, each team has to make three shots on goal. Teams choose three players who will take turns on the shots. The team that scores the most goals wins. If the tie remains, the game proceeds to sudden death. This means overtime can significantly extend the duration of a hockey game, particularly when it advances to the shootout or sudden death phases.

  • Commercial Timeouts

Ads are another thing that affects the length of a hockey game. Just like intermissions, there are three zones of commercials as well. The ad period usually lasts between 45 and 120 seconds, and they come every four minutes from the start of the game. However, there are no commercial timeouts if the game goes into overtime and shootouts.

  • Video Reviews

Sometimes, the referee and couches might initiate a video review because a play needs more careful analysis to see what happened. For example, an offside issue might need referees to review it this way. These video reviews might lead to a game lasting longer due to the time spent replaying a video and discussing the play.

  • When Puck Leaves the Field

There are various reasons that can make a hockey game come to a halt. One of these reasons is if a puck leaves the field. Once a match stops, it increases its overall duration time. The timer may not be moving in the game, but the actual time outside continues to move forward.

Pucks can leave the field after being hit by players with too much force. Usually, the time it takes for one to return to the game depends on various things. For instance, if it hits a spectator, an injury might occur, and sometimes, a game won’t resume until the victim is taken care of. Although there are many available pucks, getting one can take some time since there is a limited amount of storage on the ice rink. All this time can add up, making the game last longer.

Even though all these factors can influence how long a hockey match lasts, the NHL does its best to ensure the games are as efficient as possible. This approach results in exciting professional hocket matches that fit within the designated period for fans and long are nhl games


Now you know how long NHL games are! They consist of three periods, each lasting for 20 minutes. Although this means the real playtime of a hockey game is 60 minutes, the actual duration it might take you to watch a match may be longer. Considering the 17-minute breaks and 30-second intermissions between each period, penalties, overtime, video reviews, commercial TV breaks, and puck leaving the field, the overall time of a hockey game can be around 2-2.5 hours. Therefore, make sure to plan your time accordingly if you wish to spectate this sport on TV or online.

I'm Liliana Harper, an avid online columnist who's passionate about crafting engaging, informative, and entertaining narratives. Join me on this literary journey where words come alive!

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