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How Long is a Hockey Game? A Quick Guide to Rules and Periods

Hockey is one of the most renowned sports, known for its toughness, high enthusiasm, and strong passion. So, if you are also a big fan of hockey, then you must know about the basic rules regarding the game.

And if you are not aware of it, then don’t panic. We have arranged a brief article for you, which will cover all the topics which you must know regarding hockey.

So, if you are serious about knowing the main parts of hockey and want to know more about periods in hockey, then go through the article for a better understanding.

1. How Many Periods Are There in Hockey?

How Long is a Hockey Game
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Basically, in hockey, players split regular season games into parts, known as periods. Periods help organize the game and make it easier to play. Knowing how many periods there are in hockey is very important for fans and players. As it helps individuals know about the game in brief.

During the game, teams try to do their best in each period. But sometimes, in different leagues, they might play a different number of periods.

Especially in situations like playoffs, there can be extra periods called overtime. This makes the game even more exciting.

In this article, we will also have a look at how these periods work, how they affect the game, and how they change in different leagues and important games.

2. Three-Period Structure in Hockey

In hockey, the regular season games are split into parts known as periods. These parts are very important in deciding who wins the game.

Knowing about these periods helps you understand how the game moves and what plants the teams use.

2.1. Standard Three Period Format

Professional hockey games, like the famous National Hockey League NHL games, have three periods. Each period lasts for 20 minutes of playing.

The Rules of Ice Hockey - EXPLAINED!

These times are packed with fast moves, smart strategies, and chances for teams to make goals. Also, in between the periods, players and coaches get a short break to rest, where they make new plans and see how well they are doing.

2.2. Adaptations in Different Leagues

In some leagues, especially in youth hockey games or those playing just for fun, they might change how long the period is.

They do this match to test the skills and energy of the players. Players might make the periods shorter so they can keep going strong.

Sometimes, in special leagues or tournaments all around the world, they might make the periods longer or shorter. This makes team sports more interesting and tests the skills of the players.

Understanding how the periods work in hockey is very important for the players, coaches, and the people watching.

It is not just about how the game moves but also about the plans teams use. Also, the ups and downs of the game in these periods make hockey an exciting and loved sport all over the world.

3. Overtime Period in Hockey

a man in a red jersey playing a game of hockey
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In the world of hockey, sometimes the game does not end in the usual three parts. That’s when overtime comes in, giving teams another chance to win.

3.1. Sudden Death Overtime Periods

In a regular hockey game, when tied at the end of regulation, the teams play in an overtime period lasting up to five minutes, and if no goal is scored during this period, the game proceeds to a shootout. Then, if neither of the teams wins, it comes down to the sudden death.

The pressure in sudden death extra time is so strong that it makes the players even work harder to break the tie and get a win for their team. Also, this time is very exciting, as every move and choice can decide who wins.

3.2. Playoff Overtime Periods

Playoff games in hockey are very important as they lead to the big goal of winning the championship. In the playoffs, if a match is still tied after the usual three parts, teams play more extra time with 20-minute periods and five skaters each until one team wins, without resorting to a shootout.

Unlike regular games, playoff extra time does not end in a shootout. This means players need to use their skills, plans, and teamwork to get a winning goal.

These extra time situations bring a lot of excitement and tension to the hockey games. The sudden death style and long playoff extra times show how determined and strong players are in their quest for victory.

Also, knowing these extra time rules is very important for players and coaches because they can often decide the whole season.

4. Special Moments in Ice Hockey

Women in red jersey playing hockey in field
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In the Ice Hockey game, they sometimes need extra attention and care. These moments can change how the game goes.

4.1. Fixing the Ice Surface

Sometimes, in a hockey game, especially for the pros, the ice needs to be made smooth again. This ensures that the players have a safe and even surface on which to play.

When they take a break to fix the ice in ice hockey games, players can rest and make new plans for the rest of the game.

4.2. Different Situations in Playoff Games

Playoff games in hockey are very intense and competitive, and because of this, there are special times that happen that are different from regular games.

These times might involve special strategies for, over time, more physical play and smarter moves.

Knowing how these special playoff moments happen and how to deal with them can be important for winning these very important games.

Handling these special moments in hockey requires a good understanding of the game and the ability to change plans quickly.

Coaches and players need to be ready to make fast decisions that can change how the game goes.

When they know about these special movements, teams can play even better and have a better chance of winning.

5. Fun Hockey for Youth

In hockey, there are many youth hockey games and professional leagues available for young players. These leagues are not as serious as other professional league games, and they’re more about having fun and learning.

Ice Skating Drills for Beginners

5.1. Shorter Times to Learn

In these leagues, the game is a little bit shorter. This helps younger or less experienced players.

They get more breaks so they can keep up their energy, and this helps them get better at the game and work hard for their team.

5.2. Having Fun and Learning

The primary focus in these leagues is on enjoyment and acquiring new skills. Coaches teach the basics of the game and want the players to enjoy it. During the game, they also make sure that everyone feels included and happy.

Winning is not the only goal. Also, it is about getting better and loving hockey forever. Youngsters discover their talent and love for the game in these leagues.

6. How Hockey Differs from Other Games

Hockey is a special team game with its way of splitting time. Knowing how it is different from other popular games helps us to understand how it is played.

6.1. How Time Works in Other Team Games

Unlike hockey, which has 3 parts, many other team games have their way of dividing time.

Like in Basketball, there are four parts, each 12 minutes long. Also, football has four parts, but in college games, they are a bit shorter than in professional games.

How many periods in hockey
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Soccer, a game that is loved by all over the world, does not have parts. Instead, it’s split into two halves, usually 45 minutes long.

So, when we compare these ways of keeping time, then we can see the special plans and strategies in each game.

6.2. Special Things about Hockey’s Time System

Hockey does things that are not done in other team games. The players take a break between parts to fix the ice in Ice Hockey, so it is safe for them.

This is important. Also, in important playoff games, they can play for a long time, even longer than usual.

These extra times make the game even more exciting and show how strong and determined hockey players are.

When we look at how time works in hockey and compare it to other team games, we see that each game has its own way of doing things. This adds to the fun and plans in each match.

Wrapping Up the Journey

Hockey is different from other team games because it has its own way of playing. In hockey, the game is split into three parts, also known as periods.

Each period lasts for 20 minutes. They take breaks in between to make the ice safe. Sometimes, when the game is very important, they can play for longer than usual.

Other games like Basketball and football have four parts, but hockey is unique because it takes care of the ice and can play longer in special games.

So, understanding these things helps us enjoy and love hockey even more. Also, it is special and exciting in its way.


Q1. Why Does Hockey Have Periods?

Hockey has periods to make the game organized and easier to play, and each period lets teams plan and complete in shorter parts.

Q2. Do Different Hockey Leagues Have Different Period Lengths?

Yes, in some leagues, especially for younger or less experienced players, the periods might be shorter to match their skills and energy.

Q3. Why Is It Good to Understand How Time Works in Hockey?

Understanding how time works in hockey helps fans and players enjoy the unique features and strategies of the sport and makes the game even more fun and exciting.

Last Updated on by Arnab Nandi


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