For ice hockey enthusiasts, there is no greater feeling than being inside an arena, surrounded by passionate fans, watching your favourite team play. It’s a game that requires skill, speed, and endurance for both the players and the officials. But have you ever wondered why ice hockey games seem to fly by at lightning-fast speeds? Or maybe you’re simply curious about how long a typical hockey match lasts.
The duration of a hockey game has always been a common query among beginners and seasoned fans alike. Knowing how much time is left on the clock can help determine a team’s strategy and may impact their performance in crucial moments. In this blog post, we will put all doubts to rest and uncover everything you need to know about the length of a regular hockey game.
“Ice hockey is a fast-paced sport with a lot of non-stop action happening on the rink.”
Not only will we explain how many minutes are in a hockey game, but we’ll also go over intermissions, overtime periods, and other game regulations. By the end of this article, you’ll have a firm grasp of the sport’s timing rules and never feel lost while observing a live or televised game again!
In ice hockey, a regulation game consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes. Between the periods, there is an intermission of around 15 to 17 minutes. In total, a regulation game with intermissions can last for approximately one hour and fifty minutes.
Duration of Regulation Games
The duration of regulation games in ice hockey is specified by the National Hockey League (NHL). Each period lasts for 20 minutes, which includes stoppage time for penalties, goals, and other delays. The length of the breaks between the periods depends on various factors such as broadcast requirements and arena scheduling, but typically ranges from 15 to 17 minutes.
How Ties are Resolved in Regulation Games
If the score is tied at the end of regulation play, overtime ensues. In regular-season games, teams will play five-minute sudden-death periods until a winning goal is scored, with penalty shootouts implemented if necessary. However, this rule does not apply to playoff or championship games – instead, up to twenty additional full minutes may be added until a winner emerges.
Importance of Regulation Wins in the Standings
Throughout the regular season, standings in the NHL rely on points that teams earn throughout the span of the competition. Since a win awards two points, whereas an overtime victory gives only one point and a loss leaves a team empty-handed, regulation wins present a considerable advantage in rankings and playoff qualification chances. This factor makes non-shootout victories crucial, particularly toward the postseason run.
“When you’re only giving out two points, it’s so difficult to gauge how many points people need, but I think ten regulation wins would give any team some breathing room going forward” – Billy Jaffe
Overtime and Shootout Rules
Ice hockey is a thrilling game that features heavy physical contacts, high speed, and impeccable moves. The intensity of the game makes it common for many matches to end up in tie scores after the regulation time lapses. To break such ties and establish a clear winner, most leagues have adopted overtime rules followed by shootouts if necessary.
Length of Overtime Periods
The length of the overtime period varies depending on the league or tournament rules. In North America’s National Hockey League (NHL), an additional five-minute sudden-death overtime period follows every tied regular season game. Sudden death means the first team to score during the period wins; otherwise, a shootout takes place. If no goals are scored at the end of the overtime, the game ends as a tie.
In international tournaments like the Winter Olympics or World Championships, overtimes can last longer than the NHL’s standard five minutes. These games automatically go into one 20-minute sudden-death overtime interval, with the option of another overtime played following a brief intermission should neither team score. If still unresolved, a shootout decides the winner.
How Shootouts Work in Tie Games
A shootout consists of three rounds where each team selects three players to take penalty shots against the opposing goalie. Home teams make the first selection of shot takers. After three rounds, if the game remains tied, the shootout enters sudden-death mode, allowing any chosen player from either side to make shots until there is a winner.
During the shootout, only the selected shooter can touch the puck unless the goalkeeper dislodges it. The shooter has ten seconds from their approach on goal before being considered a faulted attempt/shot. Players must be stationed on both sides of the bench, preventing changing lines during the shootout. The goalkeeper must remain on his side of the rink until a puck is played against him, which signals that he may move beyond the goal crease.
“I wish we wouldn’t have to do it (use shootouts) at all. I think everyone knows my feelings on it.” – Henrik Lundqvist
A shootout is widely regarded as an imperfect way of deciding hockey games since it does not reflect teamwork or match play conditions. Nevertheless, some leagues consider them necessary to decide matches quickly and efficiently without adding more time to a game about other scheduled games.
Understanding how overtime works in hockey remains crucial for fans seeking the full experience of this exhilarating sport. As lengthy tie games are common, paying attention to the rules governing overtimes and shootouts helps to comprehend how winners get determined.
International Hockey Game Lengths
Duration of Olympic Hockey Games
The Olympic hockey games are one of the biggest ice hockey tournaments in the world, featuring teams from different countries. The duration of Olympic hockey games is quite similar to that of NHL games, with each game lasting 60 minutes divided into three periods.
In case of a tie after regulation time, overtime will be played until a team scores and bags the win. During group stages or preliminary rounds, if there’s a stalemate at the end of the third period, the game ends in a tie instead of entering overtime.
Length of World Championship Games
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) organizes another significant tournament known as the IIHF World Championships. For this event as well, the length of each game is identical to NHL and Olympic hockey contests – 60 minutes spread across three periods.
In situations where the match is tied after regulation, sudden death overtime takes over, with the first team scoring claiming victory. Nevertheless, during preliminary stages, a tie score at the end of the final period means the points split among both sides.
Duration of World Cup of Hockey Games
The World Cup of Hockey happens every few years and sees several countries competing for supremacy on the ice rink. Like all other significant international events, the World Cup of Hockey follows the standard format of 60-minute matches with three twenty-minute periods.
In addition, just like most other major championships, the WCH features two separate rounds; the group stage-in which participants progress based on winning records- and additional knockout playoffs, concluding with the grand finale. If necessary, an overtime session will take place, with the crucial game-winning goal securing victory for one side.
Length of IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championship Games
The World Juniors tournament for ice hockey feature some of the world’s most promising and talented young players. In this championship, we still have three periods of 20 minutes each, except that this game is slightly different from others- it has a severe consequence after securing a win.
If teams draw after sixty minutes, there will be a ten-minute sudden-death overtime period followed by penalty shots if necessary. However, countries landing in second or third positions during their group stage matches they must play an additional qualification round to progress beyond the quarter-finals. Due to this extra layer of competition, match lengths may differ across the tournament.
“Ice hockey represents a perfect example of how teamwork pays off with success.” -Unknown author
Finally, every competitive international level contest follows NHL regulations frameworks using these timeframes. From the Olympic games to yearly globe-trotting tournaments like the World Championships, though differences exist, official game length never strays too far from standard NHL competitions – making it easy viewing for casual fans of the sport.
Women’s Hockey Game Lengths
Duration of Olympic Women’s Hockey Games
The Olympic women’s hockey games consist of three 20-minute periods with two 15-minute intermissions between the periods. The total time for the game including the intermissions is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
“The duration of the game in international competition shall be three (3) twenty (20)-minute stop-time periods, separated by fifteen (15)-minute intermissions.” -International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)
During playoff rounds, if the game is tied after regulation play, then a 10-minute sudden death overtime period is played. If no team scores during overtime, the winner is determined through a shootout.
Length of IIHF Women’s World Championship Games
Similar to the Olympics, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) rules state that the duration of IIHF Women’s World Championship games should be three 20-minute periods with two 15-minute intermissions between the periods. Therefore, the total time for a full game along with intermissions becomes the same as an Olympic match, which is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
“The duration of the game, exclusive of pre-game warm-up, ice cleaning prior to actual start of the game and shootout procedures if required following a tie at the end of regulation play shall be one hundred sixty-five (165) minutes.” -International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)
In case of a tie after regulation play, teams face each other for a 5-minute sudden death overtime period. If still tied, then shootout takes place.
Duration of National Women’s Hockey League Games
National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) games generally tend to be shorter than Olympic and World Championship matches. It consists of three 15-minute periods with two 12 minute intermissions between the periods. The total time for a full game is one hour and thirty-nine minutes.
“The duration of regulation-time play shall be three (3) fifteen (15)-minute periods, separated by two twelve- (12) minute intermissions.” -National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL)
If there is a tie after the regular game duration, then a five-minute sudden death overtime period takes place before teams head on to a shootout in case if the score remains equal.
Length of Canadian Women’s Hockey League Games
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) follows the same format as National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). It has three 15-minute periods with two 12-minute rest periods separating them. Therefore, the total duration of the full game including intermissions turns out to be one hour and thirty-nine minutes.
“All league games will consist of three regularly scheduled periods of 15 minutes stop-time with two 12-minute floods or ice cleaning sessions preceding the second and third periods respectively.” -Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL)
In case of tied scores at the end of regulation playtime, teams play an extra 5-minute sudden death overtime period followed by a shootout.
In conclusion, different leagues have slightly varying formats for women’s hockey games, but the standard duration consists of three periods with intermissions totaling either 1 hour and 39 minutes or 1 hour and 45 minutes depending on the league’s rules and regulations.
How Many Periods are in a Hockey Game?
Number of Periods in NHL Games
In professional ice hockey games played in North America, typically there are three periods of 20 minutes each. The National Hockey League (NHL), which is the premier professional league for ice hockey and comprises teams from both Canada and the United States, follows this standard format as well.
The game clock stops during certain events such as penalties, time-outs or injuries. This leads to stoppages in play, but also allows players to rest briefly before returning to the ice.
“There’s nothing more exciting than playing a playoff game in Montreal.” – Sidney Crosby
During the intermission between the 2nd and 3rd period, the ice surface is shaven, flooded and maintained by an Ice Resurfacer, often referred to as a “Zamboni”. Teams use this break to recharge themselves with physical and mental energy to secure their win.
Number of Periods in International Hockey Games
While the NHL uses the 3-period format, other leagues around the world may differ. In international competitions like the Olympic Games and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship, regulation game periods are also 20 minutes long, but there can be different numbers of them depending on the tournament rules.
During any IIHF tournament preliminary round game, there are three 20-minute Regulation Time periods, and if necessary, one sudden-death overtime period that lasts up to ten minutes. If no tying goal is made, then the game goes into a shoot-out, with each team using only three shooters.
“The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day.” – Wayne Gretzky
For knockout rounds in IIHF tournaments like the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, 10 minutes of Sudden-Death Overtime is played until a puck crosses the goal line. Otherwise, if neither team manages to score during this period, then game proceeds shoot-out with each team having five shooters.
- Quarterfinals: one OT period ten minutes long followed by shootout
- Semi-finals: one OT period ten minutes long followed by shootout
- Bronze Medal Game: one single OT period ten minutes long followed by shootout
- Gold Medal Game: one single OT period ten minutes long followed by shootout
The number of periods in a hockey game depends on the league or tournament rules. In North America’s premier professional league, NHL games typically have three 20-minute periods. International hockey competitions may feature different numbers of regulation time periods but overtime and shootouts are usually used to secure the winner. Regardless of the format, ice hockey remains an exciting sport enjoyed worldwide for its speed, skill, and physicality.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a regulation hockey game?
A regulation hockey game is 60 minutes long, divided into three periods of 20 minutes each.
What is the length of each period in a hockey game?
Each period in a hockey game lasts 20 minutes, with a 15-minute intermission between the second and third periods.
How much time is in between periods in a hockey game?
The intermission between the second and third periods in a hockey game is 15 minutes long.
Are there any breaks during a hockey game?
There are two media timeouts during each period, which occur at the first whistle after the 10-minute and 6-minute marks.
What happens if a hockey game is tied after regulation time?
If a hockey game is tied after regulation time, the game goes into overtime, where the first team to score wins the game.
How long can a hockey game go on for in overtime?
A hockey game can go on indefinitely in overtime until a team scores, making it sudden death overtime.