Why Does Ice Hockey Have Three Periods? (4 Valid Reasons)
In my recent article, I explained how long hockey games last, and there it came to knowledge, among other things, that hockey has three periods. However, I haven’t yet explained why, so that’s what you’ll find in this article and more.
Ice hockey has three 20-minute periods because the ice will be worn out and covered with snow at the end of each period, decreasing the game’s quality. Thus, it can be resurfaced two times during a game. Also, players can rest more, there are more ad opportunities, and fans can stretch their legs more.
The only real reason for the three periods instead of two is that the ice needs two resurfaces by the Zamboni driver to maintain the quality of play. The other reasons are convenient byproducts of the original reason why hockey periods were increased from two to three.
Now, let’s learn about each reason individually, so you can comprehend the benefits an additional period gives to hockey, players, teams, and fans.
Reasons Why Hockey Has Three Periods
Hockey periods, sometimes mistaken as innings, are divided into three timeframes, each lasting 20-minutes. There are four main reasons: ice resurfacing, rest for the players, advertisement opportunities, and more breaks for the fans. Each reason is important, and I’ll start with the most important one.
1. Better for Ice Resurfacing
Before, ice hockey used to have two 30-minute halves. However, it was changed to three 20-minute periods because the ice was so damaged after each half, slowing down the puck, affecting its natural trajectory, and making it difficult to play overall.
When a hockey period ends, an intermission will start lasting 15 to 17 minutes. During that time, a Zamboni driver will drive around the ice rink with a machine that will cut, shave, and wet the ice with a sharp blade and water. When the game is ready to begin, the ice will be resurfaced and frozen to perfect playing ice.
2. Rest for the Players
Ice hockey is extremely physically demanding, both in endurance and strength. So, two 15-17 minute intermissions instead of one drastically differ the players’ energy levels. So, when the players can rest more, they will be more energized during play, increasing the performance and quality of the hockey.
This is more pleasant for the players, so they aren’t drained from energy, but also for spectators that can watch more fierce hockey instead of slow and tired.
3. More Advertisement Opportunities
Did you know that over $120 million was spent on just TV advertising in the NHL playoffs in 2018? Yes, that’s just the playoffs.
Think about when you have watched a hockey game on the TV; there aren’t ads shown during a period, yet there are long ones between them.
Imagine how two intermissions up to four if the game goes to overtime and shootouts affect the ad spent instead of one intermission between 30-minute halves as I would be before 1910. We are talking about tens of millions of dollars, if not more.
So who pays the money, and who gets it? Well, brands that wish to be seen during the commercial breaks will pay the money for the hockey franchisees, who can provide better salaries for their players and coaches, improve their stadiums, provide more awesome merch, and make a better experience for the fans.
4. More Breaks for The Fans
Last but not least, one intermission break more during the first and second period and second and third instead of one between the first and second half means more leg stretches, bathroom breaks, and refreshments for the fans.
Personally, I find three periods in hockey great as a fan because that makes the game last a bit longer in real-time, especially when hockey games aren’t that long, to begin with. An extra bathroom break won’t hurt either.
For the benefit of both fans and teams, the fans will spend more on food, drinks, and team-specific fan products when there are two intermissions instead of one. This means a better time for the fans and more revenue for the teams.
These four reasons are more than enough to be determined to keep three periods in hockey instead of two halves. Four quarters have been talked about in hockey, but that would make things too quick. Three 20-minute periods work the best for hockey.
Has Hockey Always Had Three Periods?
The original hockey format featured two 30-minute halves instead of three 20-minute periods. However, it was replaced with the one we know today in the season of 1910-1911.
So hockey hasn’t always had three periods, but it has had them for over 100 years, so many people have forgotten about it or don’t know about it in the first place.
I recommend visiting the website to learn more about the NHL rule changes.
Can Hockey Game Last Longer Than Three Periods?
A standard hockey game has three periods with two 15-17minute intermissions between them. However, can it be longer than that?
A hockey game can have an overtime period if the score is tied at the end of the third period. During a regular season, a five-minute overtime period is played with three skaters instead of five. However, in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the overtime period is 20 minutes long with sudden death.
So yes, a hockey game can have more periods than three. In fact, the longest hockey game recorded had eight periods, and the longest NHL game had six periods, but these are extremely rare cases.
Approximately 75% of all NHL games end in the third period, yet 25% will be tied, resulting in the fourth overtime period.
List of Hockey Games With Most Overtime Periods Played
So a hockey game can have more than three periods, even eight or six have been recorded. If that doesen’t raise some interest in you, I don’t know what will.
That said, below, you’ll find a list of hockey games with most overtime periods played and the total game length. Note that the bolded team is also the winner of the game.
|Away Team||Home Team||Date|
|6th||116:30||Detroit Red Wings||Montreal Maroons||March 24, 1936|
|6th||104:46||Boston Bruins||Toronto Maple Leafs||April 3, 1933|
|5th||92:01||Philadelphia Flyers||Pittsburgh Penguins||May 4, 2000|
|5th||90:27||Columbus Blue Jackets||Tampa Bay Lightning||August 11, 2020|
|5th||80:48||Mighty Ducks of Anaheim||Dallas Stars||April 24, 2003|
|4th||79:15||Pittsburgh Penguins||Washington Capitals||April 24, 1996|
|4th||78:06||Dallas Stars||Vancouver Canucks||April 11, 2007|
|4th||70:18||Toronto Maple Leafs||Detroit Red Wings||March 23, 1943|
|4th||69:03||San Jose Sharks||Dallas Stars||May 4, 2008|
|5th||68:52||New York Rangers||Montreal Canadiens||March 28, 1930|