How Long Does an Ice Hockey Game Last?

puck and stick on ice

Ice hockey is a thrilling sport characterized by its fast pace and intense action. For fans and newcomers alike, understanding the duration of an ice hockey game, including breaks and various formats, is essential.

puck and stick on ice

Standard Duration of an Ice Hockey Game

A standard ice hockey game consists of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, making the total playing time 60 minutes.

However, the actual time spent at the rink is significantly longer due to stoppages, breaks, and possible overtime.

Breaks and Intermissions

Between the three periods, there are two intermissions, each lasting 15-20 minutes. These breaks allow players to rest, coaches to strategize, and the ice to be resurfaced.

The length of the break can vary slightly by league, but it typically falls within this range.

Overtime and Shootouts

If the game is tied at the end of regulation time, it may go into overtime.

In the NHL (National Hockey League) and many other leagues, the overtime period is 5 minutes of sudden-death play, where the first team to score wins.

If the game remains tied after overtime, it proceeds to a shootout, which further extends the game’s duration.

In the playoffs, however, overtime periods are 20 minutes each and continue until a goal is scored, which can significantly lengthen the game.

Overall Game Length

Including intermissions and potential overtime, a typical ice hockey game lasts about 2 to 2.5 hours. This can extend to 3 hours or more if there are multiple overtime periods.

In the UK and other countries, the format and duration are generally the same, though some local leagues may have slight variations.

How Long Does the Ice Hockey Season Last?

The ice hockey season, particularly in professional leagues like the NHL, usually spans from October to April for the regular season, followed by the playoffs, which can extend into June.

This makes for a season length of approximately 7-8 months.


In summary, while the actual playing time of an ice hockey game is 60 minutes, the inclusion of breaks, intermissions, and potential overtime extends the total duration to about 2-3 hours.

Understanding these details helps fans better plan their viewing experience, whether they’re attending a game in the US, UK, or elsewhere.