How Long Is The Intermission In Hockey?

Intermissions in hockey games are typically between 10 and 20 minutes long, and their frequency varies by league.

Nevertheless, when NHL games are aired, there will be two 17-minute intermissions.

How Long Is The Intermission In Hockey

During the interval, the ice is washed frequently.

This page discusses the different components of a hockey game, the duration of intermissions, how they vary for NHL players, and the purpose of intermissions, among other topics.

How Long Do Hockey Games Last?

A hockey game lasts one hour (60 minutes) and is divided into three 20-minute portions.

However, if the game is tied after 60 minutes, extra time will be played.

Occasionally lengthier, overtime comprises five more minutes of play until one team scores a goal. Typically, if the overtime session concludes in a tie, there will be a shootout.

Then, each team will pick three players to take turns trying breakaway attempts on the other goal. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, 20-minute overtime sessions are extended until a goal is scored.

The normal hockey game might run anywhere from two and a half to three hours, depending on the league and level of play.

This is due to quarter breaks, stoppages owing to penalties or other circumstances, TV timeouts if the game is aired, and quarter breaks.

This time applies to NHL, collegiate, recreational, and youth hockey games.

As mentioned in our piece on the duration of youth hockey games, the total length of a game may vary according to the league in which it is played.

Recreational or youth hockey games often last between an hour and an hour and a half.

Unlike earlier levels, the clock will not be stopped for interruptions and there will be no breaks.

This indicates that there will be approximately one minute between each of the 60-minute sessions.

Overall, these games are meant to be quick.

Occasionally, each period is only 15 minutes long, and the entire game may span less than an hour.

Higher-Level (Minor League) games for 15- to 18-year-old players, the clock will stop between stoppages and there will be an intermission after the second period.

Typically, these games last over two hours.

However, some lower-level teams may simply play three 15-minute periods or two 15-minute periods followed by a 20-minute session.

American Hockey League games adhere to the same game time and intermission schedule as NHL games, with three 20-minute segments and two intermissions between the 1st and 2nd periods.

Since these games are not frequently shown on television, the schedule is more consistent, with games lasting around two to two and a half hours.

Usually, NHL hockey games last between two and a half and three hours; however, the time may vary because televised games require longer intermissions.

In addition, a television timeout happens every six, ten, and fourteen minutes, lasting about two minutes for advertising.

Please refer to our page on the duration of NHL hockey games for further information.

During the playoffs, it is not uncommon for NHL hockey games to last between four and five hours.

This is due to the prohibition against shootouts. Instead of a shootout after a 5-minute overtime period, 20-minute overtime periods are added until a goal is scored.

There is no conclusive answer to the subject of the duration of a hockey game.

It can vary widely according to the league, whether or not the game goes into overtime, the number of stoppages in each period, and the length of each stoppage.

What Does Stoppage Mean?

The interruptions extend the game beyond the allotted 60 minutes and up to the three-hour mark.

This is when, for different reasons, the clock must be paused. These disruptions occur every 2 to 3 minutes on average.

In lower-level hockey, these stoppages frequently do not result in a clock stop, however, this varies from league to league.

The most common interruption causes include:

  • Each team scores a goal.
  • A goal is scored, but the officials may check the footage for many minutes before determining if it was real.
  • One or more players are penalized.
  • When a shot is directed at the net, the goalkeeper stops (freezes) the puck and then covers it.
  • Generally, a fight between two or more players leads to penalties or injuries.
  • A person is injured on the ice.
  • The puck is played into the crowd or onto the bench, out of bounds.
  • Offside is called when an opposition player enters the offensive zone and crosses the blue line before the puck enters the zone.
  • When a player passes or shoots the puck from below the center (red) line to behind the goal line of the opposing team, icing is called. Please refer to our page on icing in hockey for further details.
  • The net has been displaced from its intended location and must be restored.
  • If a fan or audience member throws an object onto the ice, it is more likely to occur at NHL games where fans are known to be furious.

How Long Is A Hockey Intermission?

Intermissions occur at different times depending on the hockey league being played.

This depends mostly on the age of the players and whether or not the game is shown on television.

Intermissions between the first and second periods and the second and third periods will normally last 15 minutes.

This, however, changes according to the level being played.

Typically, in recreational or youth hockey games, there are no intermissions.

There may be a minute or two between intervals for the team to get into position, but the game is intended to be fast-paced.

In most cases, higher-level games will have only one 15-minute intermission to clear the ice, however, this may vary depending on league regulations.

Between the first and second and second and third periods, there will be two 15- to 15.5-minute intermissions.

These rules are universally applicable to all teams in the AHL.

Because NHL hockey games are shown on television, intermissions often last 17 minutes.

How Long Is Hockey Overtime?

When a regular-season game concludes in a tie and goes into overtime, there is no halftime.

After a two-minute delay, a 5-minute 3-on-3 overtime will commence.

If a goal is scored within the allotted time, the match will end immediately.

There is a shootout if neither team has scored by the end of the five-minute overtime session.

This takes around five minutes to complete.

A playoff game that ends in regulation lasts approximately the same amount of time as a regular-season game.

However, a shootout cannot be utilized to determine the victor in the postseason.

The game will continue with 20-minute parts separated by 15-minute breaks until someone scores.

Most NHL overtime games terminate within the first twenty minutes of extra time.

However, if several overtime periods are played, a postseason game can easily reach four to five hours.

What Purpose Does An Intermission Serve?

While an intermission may appear to be a handy opportunity for audience members to visit the restroom, replenish their drinks, or purchase a snack, intermissions serve other purposes and are significant for other reasons.

The two basic reasons are to clean the ice with ice resurfacing equipment and to prepare the ice for the next session.

If this does not occur, players may fall if the ice is dented or skate poorly because the surface is no longer smooth.

The interval also affords the players a chance to take a break, as we shall explain in the following section.

Imagine that you are watching a professional hockey game, such as an NHL match.

In this case, the intermission is also used to provide house entertainment and encourage purchases from the stadium’s vendors.

Additionally, it allows you to go to the restroom without missing any of the games.

What Do Players Do During An Intermission?

Since players frequently leave the ice and the bench during intermissions, you may be wondering what they do during this time.

The purpose of intermission is generally to give the players a break.

It is the perfect moment for them to organize themselves and feel ready for the next session.

We have outlined all of the alternatives open to gamers throughout this period.


A pause is required since hockey is a high-intensity exercise that requires players to expend as much energy as if they were sprinting for a few minutes.

The ability to unwind for 15 minutes is one of the key reasons why sessions are separated by intermissions.

Without these breaks, they will be unable to perform at their optimum level for the whole game.

This break might ensure that every player gives their all from the start of the game to the end.

How Long Is The Intermission In Hockey (1)


These players must rest for a few minutes to regain their strength.

During this time, players are permitted to drink water or a sports drink and take a minute to relax before being obliged to exert themselves once more. This permits them to play each 20 minutes with full energy.

As a way of refueling, some players may pair their beverage with a little food at this time.

Although it is generally recommended that players avoid ingesting heavy items before or during a game, they may consume cereal bars, fruit, or little sandwiches.

Bathroom Breaks

Even though it may go without saying, hockey players use the restroom, and the amount of water they consume throughout the game as a result of the energy they spend makes it likely that they will have to go at some point.

Therefore, 15 minutes is plenty for pupils to finish their assignments.

Fix Equipment

Even for professionals, wearing an abundance of hockey equipment may be uncomfortable, and various pieces of equipment may periodically fall dislodged.

However, while they are on the ice or even on the bench, they may not be able to adjust their equipment appropriately, which may hinder their ability to focus on the game.

During the intermission, many players have the option to alter or even remove their equipment to become accustomed to playing without it.

Some players may even remove their skates if they feel it is necessary.

Thus, they may ensure that they are comfortable and well-prepared for the next occasion.

Re-Tape Hockey Sticks

The tape on a hockey stick’s blade will degrade with time, particularly if the player spends a large length of time on the ice.

Therefore, players will need to often re-tape their sticks to prevent them from becoming damaged and to enable them to pass or shoot the puck without it falling off.

As a result, hockey players can never have too much tape, and this Sportstapee Hockey Tape is an ideal option.

Discuss Game Strategy

This timeout also affords coaches the chance to address the entire team in a place separate from the opposing team.

During this phase, the coach frequently talks about strategy with the team and offers recommendations based on what he or she witnessed in the preceding phase.

During this phase, a team may modify its initial plan if it discovers that it is not working or if the opponent has figured it out.

In addition, allowing the players to express their thoughts so that the entire team is prepared for the subsequent or concluding session.


Even though this may not be the most productive use of intermission time, it is certain that following a stressful period, the team will want to joke about, speak, and have fun (You might want to check out some Fun Hockey Facts here).

Providing the team with an opportunity to socialize, speak, and enjoy themselves before refocusing on the game.

Even though the coaches will despise and frown upon goofing off, it will occur more frequently than it should.

Team Rituals

Even after all of the activities that must be accomplished during an intermission have been finished, there are normally one or two minutes left for the team to congregate and perform any rituals.

Some teams may engage in rituals such as chanting or offering encouraging comments.

For certain teams, each player may have his or her ritual or superstition to perform before the beginning of each quarter.

This may be taking a shower to feel rejuvenated and prepared for the next practice, or meditating with eyes closed while visualizing a team triumph.

Ray Borque’s need to replace his skate laces between periods and Wayne Gretsky’s insistence on tucking in the left side of his jersey before the right may appear odd to some.

In general, though, this is a time for players to do whatever is necessary to feel rejuvenated and prepared for the following quarter and the remainder of the game.

What Is A Long Change In Hockey?

So many hockey terms are used throughout the sport, yet their titles give a little clue of their actual meaning! The term “long change” is one of these.

What is a long change in hockey and how does it function?

The long change is the time during a hockey game when the players are positioned on the bench farthest from their goaltender.

This is the time when a player in the defensive zone must adjust the slowest from a defensive viewpoint.

This will occur in each game’s second period and, if necessary, overtime.

Each stadium has a bench for both the visiting and home teams.

The players will be assigned to that bench for the rest of the game, and teams do not switch benches during play.

Nevertheless, the rules of hockey mandate that the teams must switch ends before the second and third periods.

The teams will therefore switch ends while maintaining the same bench.

This causes the players’ bench to be physically and mentally separated from their goalie.

The players’ benches will stretch into their defensive zone during the first and third periods without a big break.

This makes it far easier for a player (especially a defenseman) to switch between teammates in the face of prolonged pressure from the opposing team in the offensive zone.

During the second period (and overtime if necessary), the closest player on a team’s bench to its goaltender is located beyond the red line and not even on the same side of the ice.

When a team is under attack and unable to relieve pressure, it is far more difficult for a player to leave the field and be replaced.

According to the theory, this might result in weary players, more scoring opportunities for the opposition, and more goals against.

During some periods of a shift, it may be difficult for a player, particularly a defenseman, to be so far from the bench.

For them, this might be a “lengthy transition” that cannot be executed quickly without disturbing the ice game.

Final Thoughts

Although the length of intermissions in a hockey game tends to be consistent at 17 minutes for NHL games and 10 to 20 minutes for all other games, the overall length of each game can vary substantially.

This is due to the game going into overtime sometimes, the number of stoppages, and the length of these stoppages.

However, there will always be at least 15 minutes between phases of higher-level games, since the competitors must rest, refuel, and prepare for the subsequent phase.

If you intend to attend a hockey game in person, you may wish to read our article on when to arrive.

Tom Danier
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