How Long Is A Hockey Quarter

The length of a hockey quarter, also known as a period, can vary depending on the level of play and the league’s rules. However, in most professional ice hockey leagues, including the NHL (National Hockey League), a period is typically 20 minutes long. Here are five supporting facts about the length of a hockey quarter:
1. NHL games consist of three periods, each lasting 20 minutes, for a total of 60 minutes of game time.
2. During regular season games, if the score is tied at the end of the third period, teams go into a five-minute sudden-death overtime period. If no winner is determined, the game enters a shootout.
3. In international ice hockey competitions, such as the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) tournaments or the Winter Olympics, periods are also 20 minutes long.
4. The length of periods can vary in lower-level leagues, youth leagues, or recreational games. Some may have shorter periods, such as 15 or 12 minutes, to accommodate for skill levels or time constraints.
5. In other variations of hockey, such as street hockey or roller hockey, there may not be formal periods, and the game can be played continuously without designated breaks.


1. Can a hockey quarter end before the full 20 minutes?
Answer: Yes, a period can end before the full 20 minutes due to various reasons. It can end early if a team scores enough goals to trigger a mercy rule or if a player gets injured and the game cannot continue.

2. Are there breaks between hockey quarters?
Answer: Yes, there are breaks between quarters. In professional leagues like the NHL, there are typically breaks of around 17 minutes between the first and second periods, and the second and third periods. These breaks allow for intermissions, team strategies, rest, and ice resurfacing.

3. Can a team switch ends during a hockey quarter?
Answer: Yes, teams switch ends after the first and second periods. This helps ensure fair playing conditions because ice conditions can vary from end to end due to factors like temperature and player traffic.

4. Do penalty times count towards the length of a hockey quarter?
Answer: No, penalty times do not count towards the length of the period. The clock stops during penalties, and the penalized player must serve their time in the penalty box before rejoining the game.

5. Can a hockey quarter be shortened or lengthened during intense games?
Answer: In certain circumstances, the length of a period can be adjusted during intense games. For example, during playoff games or overtime periods, the league may decide to have a shorter intermission between periods to maintain the game’s pace and excitement.

6. Are there any exceptions to the 20-minute length of a hockey quarter?
Answer: Yes, there can be exceptions in specific leagues or tournaments. For instance, some youth leagues may have shorter periods to accommodate younger players’ stamina, while exhibition or charity games might have longer periods for entertainment purposes.

7. Why are hockey periods shorter than other sport’s quarters?
Answer: The length of hockey periods is determined by the nature of the game, the physical demands on players, and the need to maintain a fast-paced and exciting competition. Shorter periods allow for quicker shifts, increased intensity, and constant action on the ice.

In most professional ice hockey leagues, including the NHL, a hockey quarter or period typically lasts for 20 minutes. However, there can be variations in other leagues, youth games, or special circumstances. Understanding the length of a period helps fans and players follow the game and plan accordingly.