There are multiple factors that determine how long a hockey game lasts. First is its actual playing time of 60 minutes per game – comprised of three 20-minute periods with 15-minute intermissions between them – and then there’s overtime, which adds five minutes of sudden death play where first team to score wins; penalties or stoppages also extend its length further.
An NHL game usually lasts approximately two hours and 30 minutes. The league uses a 200 foot by 85 foot ice sheet covered with snow and shavings from ice shaving machines, creating an unstable surface difficult for puck control requiring much brushing off by players, referees and clearing crew. Furthermore, players and sticks continually hit against it during play wears down its surface further extending gameplay times, so as a result NHL games tend to take more time than similar sports such as soccer or football.
Average NHL games typically last two to three hours when taking into account travel times and time spent arriving and departing the arena, plus any delays that might arise from issues with the ice or other technical difficulties. If a match runs longer than expected due to any technical glitches it could be extended further still.
History shows us that playoff games often go into double and triple overtime, which often require lengthy video reviews to extend game duration further. Furthermore, injuries or lengthy penalty calls can further prolong game time and add hours onto its overall length.
One factor that can lengthen a hockey game is how long each player spends on the ice. It is crucial because better players typically spend more time skating during each game; moreover, skating increases both offense and defense contributions for their team.
Though numerous aspects of a hockey match can extend its duration, stoppages and penalties account for most of this extra time. They may arise from issues like icings, offsides and penalty calls as well as delay caused by video review or officiating mistakes.
Not to be overlooked is that, unlike baseball or basketball, hockey does not use quarters to break up its games. Instead, each period requires resurfacing the ice after each period to remove snow and ruts that form on it; teams then send out Zambonis for this task which takes around 20 minutes; therefore this sport only uses three periods instead of four quarters like basketball and football games do.