How Long Is A Professional Hockey Game?: Exploring Duration and Key Factors

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How Long is a Professional Hockey Game


Hockey is an internationally loved sport that involves two teams playing against each other, trying to work a ball or puck into the opposing team’s goal using hockey sticks. Hockey has been around for quite some time now, with the first professional game being played in 1904 by the infamous Portage Lake Club against the University of Toronto.

Over the decades, this professional sport has evolved and even split into various types. The types include ice, bandy, rink, and field hockey. However, the general rules of hockey apply to all the different kinds.

How Long is a Professional Hockey Game?

A professional hockey game lasts 60 minutes. The total time is split into three parts, 20 minutes each. After every period, the teams exchange sides. However, although the game’s standard time is 60 minutes, games might run for longer, sometimes due to overtime. In case there is overtime, teams still have to change sides.

Play Breakdown

Like any other sport, hockey players aim to score more goals than the opposing team. In a game, each team consists of five players; one goaltender who mans the goalpost, three forwarders who are allowed to crossover to the opponent’s half during the games, and two defense persons who defend their goalpost. If the game ends in a draw within 60 minutes, an overtime period of 5 minutes is added. During this period, the first team to score wins. If the game is still a tie after the overtime is up, a shootout period is introduced.


In a professional hockey game, the time for each period is 20 minutes. The time only runs when the ball or puck is in motion but stops if the referee or linesmen blow the whistle. Since there are three periods in a game, the total time amounts to 60 minutes. An extra five minutes is added to the game if the score is a draw by the end of the 60 minutes.

If you are wondering how long is a college hockey game? Or how long is a high school hockey game? Then the answer is quite simple. If it is a competition with other institutions, the games usually last a standard time of 60 minutes. However, if the school is holding internal games, the periods might be shortened to suit their needs.

Average Time

Although the total playtime amounts to sixty minutes, a game takes much longer than that. After the first and second periods, the players get intermission periods, which last 17 minutes each. Also, a game can’t come to an end without some stoppages from the referee or some injuries to the players. When a player is taken out of the field due to an injury or the referee is sorting out an issue, the clock is halted. Hence, the average time for a professional hockey game may last around two and a half hours.

Overtime and Shootout

Overtime refers to the extra playing time allocated to players if the game ends in a draw after the standard playing time is up. The overtime is allocated an average of five minutes, where the first team to score wins the game. In case the game still ends in a draw after five minutes, the game proceeds to a shootout in order to break the tie. In the shootout, a player from each team is given the opportunity to score from the middle of the field.

Commercial Break

Lots of people show up to watch hockey games, and as a result, several companies take it as a good chance to advertise their products. During the commercial break, a number of things happen. First of all, the players get to relax a little and get some advice from their coach, and also it allows time for the Zamboni to clear out the field. The commercial breaks are also a good time for fans to dash into the washrooms and not miss any part of the game.


Playoffs refer to postseason games held to determine the champion of the season. Only the top-ranking teams get to participate in the playoffs. In professional hockey, there are four rounds in the playoffs consisting of the top eight teams from each conference to determine the champion. In the playoffs, the series is played in the format 2-2-1-1-1. The series determines where the game shall be held.

Regulations and Overtime in Professional Leagues

The rules and regulations in professional leagues are highly emphasized to ensure that the scores are fair to both sides. Time management is also key because the clock only runs when the pluck is in motion. In case of stopping, the clock is halted immediately till the referee blows the whistle for the game to continue. Five minutes are allocated for overtime in case there is a tie after the three periods.

Other league’s Time length

Hockey leagues are divided into three different types; pre-season, the regular season, and the playoffs. Whether it is professional hockey, college hockey, or high school hockey, the time length for each game is the same. The playing time is always standardized into 60 minutes to make the game both standard and professional.

FAQs Of How Long Is A Professional Hockey Game

How Early Do People Arrive at Hockey Matches?

In order to settle in their seats in time, people arrive at the stadium almost a whole hour or 45 Minutes to the game. The lines to the arenas are usually long, and although they move fast sometimes if a person is late, they likely miss the beginning of the match. Also, to beat the traffic inside the arena, it is advisable that fans come early.

When should players Arrive Before a Game?

In preparation for a game, players arrive in the arena a few hours before the time set for the match to start. During this time, the players usually warm-up and do a little light exercise as they hang out with their teammates.

Q: How long is a recreational or kids’ hockey game?

A recreational or kids’ hockey came is comprised of three periods, 14 minutes each. Players are given a four-minute break in between the periods.

Q: What’s the longest hockey game played?

The Storhamar Dragons vs. Sparta Warriors game in the Norwegian League playoffs, which lasted 8.5 hours, has been recorded as the world’s longest hockey game.

Final Verdict

How long a professional hockey game lasts depends on many factors during the game. Although the time for playing games is fixed, certain conditions and situations might switch it up; For example, breakage of fights, injuries to players, and when rules are broken. For those who were wondering how long is a college hockey game? Or how long is a high school hockey game? The setting is pretty much the same as professional hockey games for standard training for players. For recreational games, the referees are not very strict with the clock, and therefore, the time might continue running even when the pluck is not in motion.

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