How Many Periods in Hockey


Hockey is a thrilling and fast-paced team sport that has captivated audiences worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to the game, understanding the fundamental structure and rules of hockey is essential to fully appreciate the excitement and strategy that unfolds on the ice. In this comprehensive article, we’ll dive deep into the concept of “periods” in hockey, exploring their historical background, the number of periods in professional hockey, and the importance of these distinct time frames in the overall flow of the game.

Understanding the Game Structure

Hockey is played on an ice rink, with two teams of six players (one goaltender and five skaters) competing to score goals by maneuvering a small, hard puck into the opposing team’s net. The objective is to outscore the opposing team within a given time frame, which is divided into distinct periods.

Rules and Regulations of Hockey

The rules and regulations of hockey are designed to ensure fair play, promote safety, and enhance the overall spectator experience. These rules cover everything from player positioning and equipment to penalties and scoring. Understanding the fundamental rules is crucial for both players and fans to fully appreciate the nuances of the game.

The Concept of Periods in Hockey

In hockey, the game is divided into distinct time frames called “periods.” These periods are essential in structuring the flow of the game, allowing for breaks, strategy adjustments, and the opportunity for both teams to showcase their skills and make a comeback.

Historical Background of Periods in Hockey

The concept of periods in hockey has its roots in the early days of the sport’s development. As the game evolved, the need for a structured time frame became apparent, allowing for a more organized and regulated gameplay experience. The number of periods and their duration have undergone various changes over the years, reflecting the sport’s continuous refinement and adaptation to meet the needs of players, coaches, and fans.

How Many Periods are There in Professional Hockey?

In professional hockey, such as the National Hockey League (NHL), the standard format is three periods, each lasting 20 minutes of actual playing time. This means that a regulation hockey game is 60 minutes long, not including any overtime periods that may be necessary to determine a winner in the event of a tie.

Breaks and Intermissions Between Periods

The periods in a hockey game are separated by breaks, known as “intermissions.” These intermissions allow players to rest, coaches to provide strategic guidance, and arena staff to prepare the ice for the next period. The duration of these intermissions is typically 15-17 minutes, providing a brief respite from the intense action on the ice.

Importance of Periods in the Flow of the Game

The division of a hockey game into periods serves several crucial purposes. It allows for the pacing and flow of the game, enabling teams to strategize, make adjustments, and capitalize on momentum shifts. The distinct time frames also create natural points of interest and excitement for spectators, as the game progresses through each period with the potential for dramatic comebacks or last-minute heroics.


In the dynamic and captivating sport of hockey, the concept of periods plays a fundamental role in structuring the game and enhancing the overall viewing experience. From the historical roots of this time-tested format to the current professional standards, understanding the significance of periods in hockey is essential for both players and fans alike. As you continue to immerse yourself in the thrilling world of hockey, keep in mind the importance of these distinct time frames and how they contribute to the ebb and flow of this exhilarating game.

To learn more about the rules, strategies, and history of hockey, be sure to check out our comprehensive hockey resource guide. Dive deeper into the sport you love and become a true hockey expert!

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