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Ice Hockey Timeouts

Is it possible to stop the clock in ice hockey? With a special ability called a timeout, a team can stop the clock from ticking in ice hockey.


We've already learned about the game clock and penalty clock in ice hockey. The game clock keeps track of time in the period. The penalty clock keeps track of the penalty and how long a player must remain in the penalty box before coming back onto the ice.

In this tutorial, we will learn about timeouts in ice hockey or special abilities for coaches and players to stop the clocks at will.


Timeouts are special calls a team can use to temporarily stop the game clock and penalty clock from ticking.

Hockey Timeouts

The clocks will start ticking again, once the puck is put back into play via a face-off.

How Many In Regulation?

So how many timeouts does a team get during regulation? This depends on the level of play (youth, college, pro).

In professional (NHL) ice hockey, teams are given one (1) timeout, that lasts 30-seconds for use during the entire game.

Timeouts are not as important or a big part of ice hockey as they are in other sports. Since teams only get one timeout, they must be careful when they choose to use it.

How Many In Overtime?

In professional (NHL) ice hockey, teams are given one (1) timeout during regulation that carries over to overtime.

Hockey NHL Timeouts

Calling A Timeout

Anyone can call a timeout during an ice hockey game, but the coach will typically signal for one.

A timeout can only be called:

  • during a normal stoppage of play
  • when the puck is 'dead'

Timeout Strategies

A team will use a timeout for one of the following reasons:

  1. to change the play design
  2. to be used in a coach's challenge.

Changing The Play Design

A team may decide to change the play design if they see the opposing team positioned in a specific way. Calling a timeout will give them time to regroup and change strategy. We will learn about ice hockey strategies in future chapters.

Coach's Challenge

A team must have their timeout available to use a coach's timeout. A coach's timeout is used to review a call by an official on the ice. We'll learn more about coach's challenges in future chapters.

Hockey Coach's Challenge

PRO TIP: Ice hockey allows for unlimited substitutions at any time during a game, so it is not necessary for a timeout to be called for a substitution. However, a coach may use a timeout if the player needs more time to come on and off the ice.

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