How Long Is An Ice Hockey Game?

Ice Hockey Game Length

A game of ice hockey is 60 minutes long, excluding overtime or shootout in professional hockey. The game is broken up into three periods, and this format is used in almost every level of hockey. However, periods can range from 12-20 minutes long, depending on the age group. Also, hockey games are always going to last more than the allotted time for the game due to stoppages in play and intermission times. For example, a 60-minute game can last up to three hours, and that’s excluding overtime or shootouts.


Youth Hockey

youth ice hockey game length

There are a lot of factors that influence the length of a youth hockey game, but the major one is age. Each age group plays with three periods. From 5-10 years old, a game typically lasts for 36 minutes. Sometimes, the clock won’t stop even if there’s a stoppage in play in this group. At the ages of 11-12, the periods can increase up to 15 minutes in time for a 45-minute contest. 13-14 year olds may see their games increase to 48 minutes, and finally, 15-16 year old games can be as high as 51 total minutes. The important thing to note is these are just averages, as league/tournament format also plays a role in how long a game lasts. Some leagues will play with an overtime or shootout if the game is tied after three periods, while others won’t.

NHL Hockey (Regular Season)

The NHL is the most prestigious and competitive league in hockey. Their games are structured in three 20 minute periods for a total of 60 minutes in-game time. This is considered to be regulation time. If the contest is tied after regulation, it will go into a five-minute, sudden-death overtime period. If that doesn’t break the tie, the game will go into a shootout. The shootout starts as a best-of-three, and if both teams are tied after three rounds, it turns into match play. This means if one team scores and the other team doesn't, the game is over. The average NHL game lasts around two and half hours in real-time as a spectator, but injuries, overtime, and shootouts can make it last even longer.

NHL Hockey (Postseason)

In the NHL playoffs, the format of the game slightly shifts. The regulation time remains the same 60 minutes with three 20 minute periods. However, if the contest is tied after regulation, it goes into a 20-minute sudden-death overtime period. If nobody scores in that 20 minutes, the timer resets back to 20 minutes, and another period is played, and so on and so forth. There is no shootout in the postseason. In 2020, a first-round game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning went to five overtimes before Brayden Point won it for Tampa. This was one of the longest games in NHL history as it lasted more than 150 minutes in-game time.

FAQ

How long is a college ice hockey game?

A college ice hockey game is 60 minutes long and has three 20 minute periods. However, these games are typically shorter than professional games in total run time because there’s less production behind the games. That means the college hockey experience might be two hours, whereas the professional game is about 2.5 hours total.

How long is a period in ice hockey?

In almost every league, there are three periods that break up the game. The length of each period depends on the age and/or league, but they’re typically between 12-20 minutes. The general rule of thumb is the younger the league, the shorter the period is, and vice versa.

How long are high school ice hockey games?

High school hockey games typically last 45-51 minutes, depending on the league. Some high school hockey leagues will feature overtime or a shootout if there’s a tie after regulation, but that varies on the league/tournament. Intermission time can also last anywhere between two and 15 minutes.