How many minutes is ice hockey?

3 min read

Ice hockey is a thrilling and fast-paced sport that has gained immense popularity around the world. As a spectator or a budding player, you might be curious about the duration of an ice hockey game. The intricacies of an ice hockey match and answer the question: How many minutes is ice hockey?

The Basic Structure of an Ice Hockey Game

To understand the duration of an ice hockey game, it’s crucial to grasp its basic structure. An ice hockey game is divided into three periods, and each period has a specific time frame.

1. First Period

The first period of an ice hockey game typically lasts for 20 minutes of playing time. However, it’s essential to note that the clock is stopped whenever there is a stoppage in play. This can include incidents like penalties, injuries, or when the puck goes out of play.

2. Second Period

Similar to the first period, the second period also lasts for 20 minutes of playing time, with the clock stopping during stoppages.

3. Third Period

The third period is also 20 minutes long, with the clock stopping when needed.

Overtime and Shootouts

Now that we’ve covered the regulation time, it’s important to mention that not all ice hockey games end in regulation. Some games go into overtime and even shootouts to determine the winner.

4. Overtime

In the regular season of the National Hockey League (NHL), if the game is tied at the end of the third period, there is a sudden-death overtime period. This period lasts for 5 minutes. The team that scores first during overtime wins the game.

5. Shootouts

If the game remains tied after the overtime period, a shootout occurs. Each team selects three shooters, and they take turns attempting to score against the opposing team’s goaltender. If the score is still tied after the initial three rounds, the shootout continues until there is a winner.

Summing Up the Minutes

To calculate the total duration of an ice hockey game, we add up the three regulation periods and any additional time for overtime and shootouts.

  • Regulation time (3 periods): 60 minutes (20 minutes each).
  • Overtime: 5 minutes (if necessary).
  • Shootouts: Additional time as required.

So, in a regular NHL game, the total playing time can range from 60 minutes to more, depending on the presence of overtime and shootouts.


In conclusion, the duration of an ice hockey game can vary, but the standard playing time for regulation is 60 minutes, divided into three 20-minute periods. Overtime and shootouts may extend the game beyond this duration. Understanding the structure of an ice hockey game adds to the excitement of this high-speed sport.

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