How Long Are College Hockey Games? Find Out Here!

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College hockey games are one of the most exciting events in sports. The fast pace, skillful plays, and intense atmosphere are what make this game so captivating to watch. For those who have never experienced a college hockey game before, you might be wondering how long they last. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about the duration of college hockey games.

Hockey is known for its high-intensity gameplay that keeps fans on edge throughout the entire game. However, it also has a reputation for having unpredictable game lengths due to overtime periods and shootouts. This unpredictability is part of the excitement, but for those who want to plan their schedules around watching a game or attending an event, knowing the exact length of the typical game can be helpful.

“Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.” -Stephen Leacock

Throughout this article, we will discuss how long regular-season games, playoffs, and championship games typically last. We will also take a closer look at any variations that may arise during the game, such as intermissions, timeouts, injuries, and overtimes. Whether you’re new to the sport, a casual fan, or a dedicated follower of college hockey, this article will provide valuable insights into the duration of these high-energy games.

Regulation Time

Length of Regulation Time

College hockey games have three periods. The length of the regulation time is 60 minutes, divided into three equal periods of 20 minutes each. This is similar to the National Hockey League (NHL) and International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

The clock stops and starts with penalties, goals, player injuries or any offside calls by referees. Overtime may be added if the score is tied at the end of the third period.

Rules During Regulation Time

  • No more than six players from each team should be on the ice surface when play is in progress.
  • A “faceoff” occurs at the center circle on the ice rink whenever play starts after a stoppage or a goal.
  • If the puck goes out of bounds, it results in a faceoff near where the puck went out, except for beyond either blue line, which will result in a defensive zone faceoff for the opposite team.
  • Players can shoot or pass the puck through space as they move around on their skates. But body checking or obstructing an opponent’s progress by using one’s hip or rear end that initiates contact above the waist is not allowed.
  • Icing is another important rule in college hockey. It happens when a player shoots the puck from behind his defending “blue line” all the way down to the other team’s end of the ice without going through another player, crossing both red lines and going across the far-end goal line last: this makes an icing call, resulting in a faceoff coming back to the penalized-team’s defensive zone.
“I think it’s essential to share with students that the same values and principles which make college hockey a unique and special game would lead us to reject any notion of pay for play, leading to full professionalism,” says Mike Snee, Executive Director of College Hockey Inc.

College hockey is an exciting game to watch. But it also has strict rules to ensure safety on the rink while providing equal opportunities for both teams to win. Knowing these rules will help you appreciate the game more as well as understand how players are judged based on their performance during regulation time in comparison to other time intervals of play.


College hockey games can be intense and exciting, but sometimes they require a bit of extra time to determine the winner. This is where overtime comes in. But how does it work?

When Overtime Occurs

In college hockey, overtime occurs when the game is tied after three periods of play. The NCAA dictates that all regular-season games must have a winner, so ties are not allowed. This means that if both teams have scored the same number of goals at the end of regulation, they will need to continue playing until someone scores the game-winning goal.

It’s worth noting that during playoff games, overtime rules may vary depending on the specific tournament or conference. Some playoffs may include multiple sudden-death OT periods, while others may adopt shootout procedures after one or two overtimes.

Rules During Overtime

The format for overtime in college hockey varies slightly from the traditional game format. Here are some key rules:

  • The teams switch ends: At the beginning of overtime, teams change sides so they defend the opposite goal than they did in the third period. This ensures that neither team has an unfair advantage based on any potential wind or lighting conditions.
  • Sudden-death: Overtime is played under a “sudden death” format, meaning that the first team to score a goal wins the game. There are no shootouts in college hockey during regular-season games (although, again, playoff formats may differ).
  • Reduced manpower: To make up for the fatigue players may experience after three periods of play, only five skaters including the goalie per side will take to the ice in overtime as opposed to six during regulation. This creates more open spaces on the ice and makes it easier for players to score a goal against the opposing team.
  • Timing: Overtime periods last for five minutes each, with intermissions of two or three minutes in between. If no one scores in five minutes, another period begins, and this can go on indefinitely until there is a winner.

It’s important to note that teams do not receive any additional time outs during overtime. They only have access to what they already used (maximum of 1 at the D-I level) which could make it difficult for them to strategize much when adjusting to a format with fewer players while striving for the game-winning goal.

“Overtime goalies always scare me because their pads are fresh and mine already aren’t feeling too good.” -Former Harvard University defenseman Dylan Reese

All in all, college hockey games require a lot of energy and effort from athletes, especially as they head into post-regulation play. Understanding how overtime works is critical if you want to fully enjoy the excitement and unpredictability of every match.


In college hockey, a shootout is used to determine the winner of a game when both teams are tied at the end of regulation and overtime. This exciting event has been known to bring fans to the edge of their seats.

When Shootout Occurs

The NCAA rules state that the regular season game must end in a tie after a five-minute overtime period before proceeding to a shootout. If it’s a playoff game or championship, the teams play until one team scores during the overtime period.

A referee will blow the whistle once the 5-minute overtime ends. The arena would then hush as players on both sides wait nervously for the decision. That whistle signifies either a win by the sudden-death goal scored by a player within the overtime or beginning a shoot-out round if no goal was awarded during the added time.

Rules During Shootout

The shootout consists of three rounds per team where each skater can take an attempt towards scoring a lawful shot into the opposing team’s net. Additional rounds proceed if there is still a tiebreaker necessary.

All shots following those three rounds are taken under a set order of players on both groups chosen explicitly by the coach or respective captain before initiating the inning itself. No repeat attempts allowed except when every eligible player had already taken a turn in a specific round (excluding the mandatory round of three turns per team).

“I think once you get in close quarters with someone…everyone gets amped up.” -Matt Prapavessis

Number of Shots in Shootout

The number of total shootout chances decreases as participating players fail to score against the goaltender according to the predefined exchange system exhibited below:

  • Round 1-3: Three total shots each team using whatever participants they choose.
  • Round 4-6: Followed up with one shot per player on participating teams assigned to the shots by a set order coordinated through team personnel.
  • Round 7+: As many rounds as needed, including sudden death rounds, if there is still a tie. This round goes with just one penalty try for each team every waiting cycle until a goal lands and creates the difference maker between both parties involved in this high-pressure moment of play.

Determining the Winner of Shootout

The game-winner shall be recognized as the last shooter who registers a legitimate goal that fulfills NCAA and the International Ice Hockey Federation rules for scoring goals. A referee will decide whether or not to review a shootout goal with instant replay before awarding it officially from the front office due to circumstantial issues where fans, players, coaches contested its lawfulness.

“Shootouts are nerve-racking no matter how many times you’ve done them” -Barry Trotz

College hockey games have a unique ending when tied, which adds more excitement in spectator’s eyes. Allowing an equal chance for both teams, while having gameplay come down to a smaller portion, keeps things interesting. Overall, shootouts test the skills and nerves of the best players under immense pressure when faced with leading their team towards a victory that could impact their standing in the league.

TV Timeouts

In college hockey games, TV timeouts serve as a brief respite in action. They are not the same as intermissions that halt each period after 20 minutes of playtime. These stoppages provide sponsors time to broadcast commercials on live telecasts or replays for viewers who could not watch them earlier.

When TV Timeouts Occur

TV timeouts come at pre-determined points set by telecom companies like ESPN and Fox Sports. At typical NCAA Division I hockey games, there are two scheduled breaks between periods, plus ten-minute rests at either end of the second period and one prior to overtime. Over these pauses, players can rest their legs, grab refreshments, coaches analyze tactics, and medics attend to injured athletes.

Length of TV Timeouts

The duration allocated for TV timeouts depends mostly on media partners’ discretion. In some instances, stations may lengthen stoppage times (from the usual 90 seconds) during critical matches such as championship bouts. Regardless of any variance, the allotted minutes are indispensable to broadcasters. It gives advertisers room to showcase themselves before millions of people while still keeping fans engaged with meaningful sports content.

Effect of TV Timeouts on the Game

Although proponents argue that TV timeouts assist weaker teams gain strength from resting intervals, some quarters claim they affect game momentum. The extended delays in gameplay often irritate both players and spectators, with mentions of disruptiveness drifting around forums. Hockey fans acknowledge that it is an unavoidable pang; nevertheless, organizations should attempt to limit the frequency when possible. Nonetheless, network deals guarantee revenue streams and afford arenas more opportunities to host games.

“In her study published in the Harvard Business Review, professor Anita Elberse analyzed data across the top three US sports leagues and found that premium television advertising remains a crucial source for media rights revenues.” –SportsPro Media magazine

TV timeouts are integral components that form part of college hockey events. The length of these intermissions on live telecasts fluctuates according to pre-defined sponsorship agreements between broadcasters and telecom networks. Despite its disruptive tendencies, stoppages aid in sustaining business partnerships and supplying players with much-needed breathing room during highly intense matches.


College hockey games consist of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes. Intermissions are necessary between each period to allow for players to rest and for the ice surface to be cleaned and prepared for the next period.

Length of Intermissions

The intermission time between the first and second period is typically 15 minutes, while the break between the second and third period is usually 18 minutes. The longer intermission during the final break allows teams more time to prepare and make adjustments before the crucial last period of play.

Activities During Intermissions

During these intermissions, a variety of activities take place on the ice to keep fans entertained. At many college hockey rinks, popular events include fan competitions such as shootouts or on-ice races. Music and videos may also be played to entertain spectators.

Preparation for Next Period During Intermissions

Players use this downtime to rest and recover from the physical demands of the game while also preparing for the next period. Coaches strategize with their team and make any necessary changes based on how the game has been progressing so far. Goalies often take extra time to stretch and mentally prepare themselves for the next period of play.

Effect of Intermissions on the Game

Intermissions not only benefit the physical wellbeing of players but can also have an impact on the game’s outcome. Coaches use these breaks to analyze their opponent’s performance and adjust their team’s gameplay accordingly. In addition, intermissions provide teams with a chance to rest and refuel, which often results in higher quality play when they return to the ice.

“Intermissions are a very important part of the game; it gives guys a good break to get hydrated and it gives coaches a chance to talk things over with their players and change the momentum of the game.” – Kevin Shattenkirk

Intermissions are an essential aspect of college hockey games. They allow for necessary breaks while also providing opportunities for entertainment and preparation.

Overall Duration

Total Length of a Game

The duration of college hockey games varies and depends largely on the level of play and rules governing each game. However, most NCAA Division I men’s games take approximately two hours to complete while women’s games last slightly less than two hours.

In detail, Minnesota State University notes that all NCAA-sanctioned men’s ice hockey contests are scheduled for 60 minutes only, which is divided into three periods lasting 20 minutes each. The women’s counterpart enjoys slightly lesser time by playing two extra minutes in overtime.

Intermission time also estimates around fifteen minutes between the first and second period giving enough time for rest; however, there could be an extended break during tournament play. Most teams allow twelve minutes or so as well before starting the third period, depending on rink scheduling needs.

Factors Affecting the Duration of a Game

Several factors could affect how long college hockey games last and some even frustrate spectators if not informed. One major factor among many is if tied after 60 minutes excluding playoffs, then overtimes follow suit until one team scores (“sudden death” rule). Players continue playing under the same sudden-death format until someone wins.

A clear contrast exists between divisions where non-conference games that involve different leagues may vary significantly in length according to Mike McMahon (2019), USCHO columnist. Similarly, weather-induced breaks massively hamper with match timings due to Zamboni maintenance requirements alongside general safety guidelines concerning visibility and travel towards and from arenas.

Mirroring what SportsRec explains about high school and youth hockey games, College teams can use up timeliness in battles like “offensive rushes, penalty shots may end up taking longer periods.” Additionally, penalty disputes players who constantly leave their bench or behave unprofessionally tend to escalate the delay.

Closing out, ice hockey matches can be a white-knuckle combination of speed, skill and intense physicality that makes them one of the most exciting sports in college athletics. A standard game takes approximately 2 hours to complete each time but may quickly exceed this timeframe if overtimes take place or another factor comes forward.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard length for college hockey games?

The standard length for college hockey games is three periods of 20 minutes each, with a 15-minute intermission between the second and third periods.

Are there any variations in game length depending on the level of play?

Yes, there are variations in game length depending on the level of play. Junior and minor leagues may have shorter game times, while professional leagues may have longer game times.

What happens if a game is tied after regulation time?

If a game is tied after regulation time, a five-minute sudden-death overtime period is played. If the game is still tied after the overtime period, the game is recorded as a tie.

Is there a difference in game length between regular season and playoff games?

No, there is no difference in game length between regular season and playoff games. Both follow the standard three-period format with a 15-minute intermission between the second and third periods.

How long are intermissions between periods in college hockey games?

Intermissions between periods in college hockey games are 15 minutes long, allowing players and officials time to rest and prepare for the next period.

Are there any rules or regulations regarding overtime periods in college hockey?

Yes, there are rules and regulations regarding overtime periods in college hockey. Overtime periods are played with 5-on-5 skaters and the first team to score wins the game. If the game remains tied after the first overtime period, additional periods of sudden-death overtime are played until a winner is determined.

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