How Long Does Average Hockey Game Last?

Hockey games are a thrilling experience for sports fans, but have you ever wondered how long an average game lasts? Let’s find out the answer to this burning question.

The Average Length of a Hockey Game:

Regulation Game Length:

A standard regulation hockey game typically lasts about two to two and a half hours. The game is divided into three periods, each lasting 20 minutes of play time. There are intermissions between periods, usually lasting around 15 to 20 minutes. These breaks give players a chance to rest, strategize, and for fans to grab some snacks or hit the restroom. So, if you’re planning to catch a regulation game, be prepared for a couple of hours of intense action on the ice.

Overtime and Shootouts:

When regulation play ends in a tie, things can get even more exciting. Overtime periods are typically five minutes each, with teams playing sudden death meaning the first team to score wins. If the game is still tied after overtime, then a shootout may occur. In a shootout, each team selects three skaters to attempt scoring against the opposing team’s goalie. The team with the most goals after the shootout wins the game. This means that a hockey game could potentially go on for longer than usual if it goes into overtime and a shootout, keeping fans on the edge of their seats.

  • In case you’re curious, a full shootout round, from start to finish, usually takes about 15-20 minutes to complete. So, if you’re lucky to witness a shootout, get ready for some thrilling moments as the fate of the game is decided shot by shot.

Factors Affecting Game Length:

Hockey games can vary in length due to several factors. Stoppages play a significant role, whether it’s for offsides, icing, or the puck going out of play. These interruptions can add up, affecting the overall duration of the game. Additionally, penalties can also impact game length, as power plays or penalty kills can prolong the game. Moreover, television timeouts are strategically inserted into the game to allow for commercial breaks, influencing the pace of play and stretching out the game duration.

Historical Perspectives:

Over the years, the length of hockey games has seen some evolution. Rule changes have been implemented to speed up the game and reduce unnecessary stoppages. For example, the introduction of the shootout in the NHL in 2005 helped to eliminate tie games and shortened the overall duration of some matches. Another rule change such as overtime format modifications to reduce the number of games going to a shootout have also been put in place to make the games more engaging and efficient. Such changes showcase the ongoing efforts to enhance the fan experience and keep the game exciting.

How Long Does an Average Hockey Game Last?

Hockey games typically last around two and a half to three hours, including pre-game warm-ups, intermissions, and overtime periods if necessary. The game itself is divided into three 20-minute periods with two intermissions, lasting roughly 60 minutes of pure game time. However, several factors can affect the overall length of a hockey game, such as penalties, injuries, and stoppages in play.

Strategies to Speed Up Games:

  1. Enforce Time Limits: Encourage referees to be more vigilant in enforcing time limits for face-offs, line changes, and breaks between periods to keep the game moving swiftly.
  2. Reduce Commercial Breaks: Limit the number and duration of commercial breaks during gameplay to minimize disruptions and maintain the flow of the game.
  3. Quick Penalty Assessments: Speed up the process of assessing penalties by having officials make decisions promptly to prevent unnecessary delays.
  4. Streamline Video Reviews: Implement efficient video review protocols to resolve disputed calls swiftly and avoid prolonged interruptions.
  5. Prompt Player Substitutions: Encourage teams to make quick player substitutions to prevent delays in gameplay and maintain momentum.

Behind the Scenes: Pregame Preparation

Behind the scenes, before a hockey game, there is a flurry of activity that contributes to the overall length of the event. From player warm-ups to on-ice ceremonies, each element adds to the excitement of the game but also affects its duration.

Player Warm-Ups: Players engage in pre-game warm-ups to prepare their bodies for the intensity of the game. These sessions typically last around 15-20 minutes and are crucial for optimal performance during the match.

National Anthems: Before the game begins, the national anthems of the competing teams are sung or played. This ceremonial tradition adds to the pre-game atmosphere but also adds a few minutes to the overall length of the game.

Player Introductions: As the players take to the ice, their names and positions are announced to the crowd, building anticipation for the upcoming matchup. While this introduction adds to the excitement, it also extends the pre-game duration.

Skate Preparation: Players, coaches, and officials ensure that the ice surface is in optimal condition for gameplay. This meticulous preparation includes resurfacing the ice, checking equipment, and ensuring safety standards are met.

By understanding these behind-the-scenes elements and implementing strategies to streamline gameplay, leagues and officials can work together to enhance the overall hockey experience for fans while keeping the duration of games optimal.

Extended Playoffs:

Playoff hockey brings a whole new level of excitement and intensity, and that includes the length of the games. Unlike regular-season games that typically last around two to two and a half hours, playoff games can go into overtime, and sometimes multiple overtimes, adding extra time and suspense to the match. The longest NHL playoff game in history occurred in 1936 and lasted a staggering 176 minutes and 30 seconds, totaling six overtimes! So, be prepared for some nail-biting, extended action when watching playoff hockey.

Enjoying the Full Experience:

To make the most of your time at a hockey game, start by arriving early to soak in the pre-game festivities and get your hands on some delicious arena snacks. Once the game begins, cheer on your team, engage with other fans, and take in the electrifying atmosphere of the arena. Don’t forget to catch some of the fun intermission activities and keep an eye out for special promotions or giveaways throughout the game. And remember, win or lose, being part of the live hockey experience is always a blast!

  • Arrive early: Beat the crowds, grab a good seat, and enjoy the pre-game buzz.
  • Immerse yourself: Cheer loudly, high-five other fans, and soak in the energy of the game.
  • Indulge in arena food: Treat yourself to traditional hockey eats like hot dogs, nachos, and soft pretzels.
  • Join in the fun: Participate in arena chants, wave your team’s flag, and fully engage in the game.
  • Capture the moment: Take photos, create memories with friends, and relish being part of the live action.

Remember, each hockey game has its own unique charm, so make the most of your time at the arena and create unforgettable memories with every puck drop.

Fun Facts About Game Length:

Did you know that the average length of a hockey game can vary depending on the level of play? While professional NHL games typically last around 2.5 to 3 hours, college or youth hockey games may be shorter, ranging from 1.5 to 2 hours. So, if you’re planning to catch a game, be prepared for different durations based on the league or level!

In addition to game length, overtime periods can also impact the total duration of a hockey game. If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, teams will go into overtime, which can extend the game by another 5 to 20 minutes. This sudden-death period adds an element of excitement and suspense for fans, but it can definitely make the game last longer than expected!

Another interesting fact is that the stoppage of play in hockey, including penalties, offsides, and timeouts, can contribute to the overall length of the game. These breaks in action not only give players a chance to catch their breath but also add to the strategic elements of the game. So, next time you’re watching a hockey game, pay attention to how these stoppages influence the pace and duration of play!

And here’s a unique insight for you: did you know that the intermission during hockey games isn’t just a break for players to rest? It’s also a crucial time for coaches to strategize, make adjustments, and motivate their team for the next period. So, while fans may use the intermission to grab a snack or stretch their legs, teams are working hard behind the scenes to gain a competitive edge!

So, whether you’re a die-hard hockey fan or a casual observer, these fun facts about game length can give you a new perspective on the exciting world of hockey! Get ready to dive into the action and enjoy the fast-paced intensity of this dynamic sport.

  • Alex Mitch

    Hi, I'm the founder of! Having been in finance and tech for 10+ years, I was surprised at how hard it can be to find answers to common questions in finance, tech and business in general. Because of this, I decided to create this website to help others!