Why Hockey Games Are Played In Three Periods originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Hockey is a game full of unique traditions and strange rules. From the fighting – and lack of punishment – to the messy subbing system, it can be an intimidating game for the novice fan.
Take it from someone who was there. I was attending my first hockey game in college and after completing the second period I stood up thinking the game was over only to be quickly informed that there was a full 20 minutes left to play.
What is the purpose of this third period? And why is ice hockey alone in his reign?
Here’s a look at hockey periods and the history behind them:
How many periods are there in ice hockey?
Unlike most sports, which are played in halves and quarters, hockey has chosen to take the road less traveled — three 20-minute periods, each with a 15-minute break before the second and third periods.
Why does ice hockey have three periods?
The three-period system is actually created with these 15-minute breaks.
Prior to 1910, hockey games were played in two 30-minute halves. However, the constant accumulation of snow and ice – decades before a tinkerer named Frank Zamboni attempted to improve the surface quality of the local ice rink – resulted in rust and could lead to injuries and delays.
Legend has it that Frank and Lester Patrick – hockey legends for their contributions on the ice and in the development of the game – spearheaded the transition to three periods. The brothers apparently believed the change would allow for more frequent rink cleanings while providing additional rest for players and encouraging fans to visit concession stands.
When the NHL was established a few years later, the three-period structure was in full swing and had been a staple for over 100 years.
Does women’s hockey have three periods too?
Yes. While some sports, such as college basketball, have different timing rules based on gender, hockey keeps them constant in the men’s and women’s game. ‘
What are NHL overtime rules?
While NHL overtime rules vary depending on whether it’s a regular season or a playoff matchup, the league is adamant about one thing – sudden death.
During the regular season, the NHL plays five-minute, three-on-three overtime. If neither team scores in those five minutes, the game turns into a penalty shoot-out, with each team having three chances to go one-on-one against the goalkeeper. If the score is still unchanged after three rounds of a penalty shootout, the stakes are increased, with the team that scores the next goal being declared the winner.
In the playoffs, teams have a full 20 minutes overtime to settle things. They keep playing sudden-death overtime until one team finds the back of the next.
There is no shootout in the playoffs.