Ice Hockey Game Details (Periods, No Of players, Game Length/Time!)

Last Updated on October 2, 2021 by Daniel Cuttridge

Ice hockey is a contact team sport where two opposing teams with six players each, compete on ice skates during the winter on a rink. These players use sticks to play a vulcanized rubber puck and the object is to score more goals than your opponent. Apart from North America and other few European countries where the sport is simply called “hockey”, it is commonly referred to as field hockey in other countries in the world.

But they are two different sports. If you’re looking for the full details about ice hockey as a sport, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll get to know the number of players and periods in ice hockey with the game length for a different level of play. 

The table below contains the number of players, periods, and game length of NHL and college level of play. 

ParametersNHLCollege
Number of players6
Periods3 periods3 periods 
Game LengthLasts for 60 minutes of playing time in regulationLasts for 60 minutes of playing time in regulation

How Long Is An NHL Hockey Game In Real-time? 

How Long Is An NHL Hockey Game In Real time


An NHL game lasts for about 60 minutes of playing time in regulation, and this applies to other professional leagues such as the AHL, ECHL, and European leagues. However, if you add the time of stops, intermission, and possible overtime, this playing time works out to be 2.5 to 3 hours. An NHL game is divided into three periods of 20 minutes each. There’s always an additional 5 minutes of overtime for any game that ties at the end of regulation. If the game is still tied after the additional 5 minutes of overtime, then there might be a shootout. In real-time, the whole game time plus stops, intermission, and possible overtime would be more than just the 60 minutes regular time. The intermissions, stoppages in play due to rule violations, and mandated TV timeouts are the common things responsible for the increase in the time of ice hockey games. Besides, games can tie at the end of extra time in form of overtime the shootout will be required to decide the winner of the game. When you add all the time to complete all of these together, then it will take more than 3 hours to complete an ice hockey game in real-time. 


How Long Are The Intermissions Between Periods? 


The intermission of the NHL game lasts for about 17 minutes, and it occurs twice in a normal game. The first intermission happens between the first and second periods while the second one happens between the second and third periods. During this intermission, the ice on the rink is tidied up and mended. There might also be in-house entertainment between the periods. Unlike the regular season with just 5 minutes of an overtime period, the playoffs have about 20 minutes overtime periods. In the playoffs, there’s a complete intermission between the third period and first overtime over time which lasts for about 15 minutes. 

How Long Between Regulation And Overtime? 


There won’t be any intermission for any game that ends in a tie and goes to overtime during a regular season. The play starts immediately after a two minutes break-in time and 3-on-3 overtime will start. 

What Is The Length Of A Game In The NHL Playoffs?

 Length Of A Game In The NHL Playoffs

If a game remains tied even at the end of an overtime period in the NHL playoffs, there won’t be any shootout to decide the winner. 20 minutes periods will be added to the game until a team finally scores and the winner is decided. If there are extra added periods, an overtime playoff game may last more than 4 hours even though most NHL overtime games end in regulation. 

How long are college hockey games? 

In Canada, major junior hockey games and college games last roughly the same as an NHL game, which is at least two and a half hours. But the college games are a bit shorter because of the limited production going into the game from an in-house standpoint or a TV as compared to the NHL. 

How Long Is A Recreational Or Kid’s Hockey Game?

Kids Hockey Game

A recreational hockey game lasts about 60 minutes at runtime. Don’t forget that we are talking about a recreational or kid’s hockey game. The runtime, in essence, means that the clock won’t be stopped when there’s a whistle. The clock is left to run throughout the whole match until the end of the period. Apart from the free minutes that will be added for the quick stoppage between warmups and periods, a recreational hockey game would take 60 minutes to play. If you’re to calculate the whole time it will take from the start of the warmup until the team vacates the rink at the end of the game, then you should expect it to go as long as one hour and fifteen minutes. 

How Many Players Play At A Time For Each Team In Ice Hockey?

Six players from each team play on the rink at a time. Normally, a full ice hockey team includes about 17 to 22 players and they can be used to substitute another player on the same team at any time during the game. The normal lineup is a netminder, two defencemen, and three forwards. 

Closing Thought 

Six players play at a time for each team in ice hockey, and the match has three periods of three 20 minutes each. The time runs only when the puck is in play, and players can be substituted at any point in the game an unrestricted number of times. We’ve come to the closing chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know about the ice hockey game in detail. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!

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