How Long is a Hockey Game?

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How Long Is a Hockey Game?

A casual hockey fan might wonder how long a professional hockey game is. Although there are only three periods in a regulation game, one may be shocked that games can take a few hours until the conclusion. What factors determine how long a hockey game is?

Let’s look at how long an average hockey game takes.

How Long Do Ice Hockey Games Last?

If you attend an NHL game, expect to be in the arena for high-intensity action for about 2 ½ hours. Playoff games can last even longer due to longer commercial breaks and possibly added overtime periods.

Professional hockey games at the NHL level take 60 minutes of playing time, broken down into three periods of 20 minutes each. Note that this time does not include when game time stops during intermissions, penalties, fights, when the puck leaves the ice, etc.

The game will go even longer if the score is tied after regulation. If the game remains tied, there is a shootout. In such cases, there is a five-minute overtime period. 

How Long Do Other Sports Take?

Baseball games at all levels do not have a clock, and games generally take about three hours to finish. NBA games consist of four 12-minute quarters. NFL games are four 15-minute quarters, and professional soccer games have two 45-minute halves with a running clock. 

Reasons For The Game Taking Longer To Complete

Unlike in soccer, the official time clock stops at times during an NHL game. There are two 15-minute intermissions per game during which the Zamboni cleans the ice. If the game is tied after regulation, there is another 15-minute intermission before overtime. During the Stanley Cup, five minutes are added to each intermission.

Speaking of commercials, advertisers need to find ways to add commercials to the game. Sometimes, there will be added time after a puck leaves the ice or during a timeout to add extra commercials. After all, someone has to pay for the tv broadcast.

In addition, injuries, fights, and the goalie’s net coming loose always add time because the game clock stops during these circumstances. 

Can Hockey Games End In a Tie?

NHL games could end in a tie-up until the 2005-06 season, so fans often went home indifferent. After all, fans pay good money to watch their team win a game. That all changed, and now NHL teams continue to a shootout to decide a winner if the score is tied after the first five-minute overtime period. Although a tie is better than a loss, it’s about the same as not having the game played.

What Is The Longest NHL Game Ever?

Back in the early days of the NHL, games were played until there was a winner. Hockey games weren’t always limited to three periods, single overtime, or shootouts.

In a contest between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Maroons in Game 1 of the National Semifinals in 1936, the game lasted 176 minutes and 30 seconds of ice time. The actual time by the clock was 5 hours and 55 minutes. Detroit won the game, 1-0, and swept the series to win the Stanley Cup.

How Long Do Other Professional League Games Take?

The biggest difference between the length of time between NHL games and hockey games in other leagues is the time for intermission. This varies from 15 to 17 minutes for the following leagues with a game time of 60 minutes: College (NCAA), Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), National League (Swiss), American Hockey League (AHL), East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), Western Hockey League (WHL), and Ontario Hockey League (OHL).


Attending a hockey game is an excellent experience for the entire family. The NHL constantly strives to entertain fans when they enter the arena. Fans could be in the arena for up to three hours at the start of the warmups through the periods, intermission, and possible overtime and shootouts. The average total time is about 2 ½ hours for an NHL game.