Why Are There 3 Periods In Hockey?

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As a hockey coach, there always was this looming question at the start of my career. Why does hockey have 3 periods? If you are facing the same interrogation, then you came to the right place for the answer.

The major league sports in North America are well-known for their four quarters but not hockey. It is a unique sport!  Why do you think that is? Well, hockey is famous for its difference in playtime.

Here is a brief overview that will help you understand the reasons better with some depth before I share the reasons. Have you looked into the history behind three periods in hockey? I find historical observations to be quite fascinating.

How Did Hockey Start Having 3 Periods?

NHL (National Hockey League) games used to have two halves periods of 30 minutes before 1910-11 seasons. Did you know that NHA first introduced the three period’s concept? It was common for hockey players to be vulnerable to injury due to ruts and snow. NHA (The National Hockey Association) came up with the innovative idea for the 3-period rule to provide an effective solution to counter the vulnerability issues.

Now that you know the origin of the three periods concept in hockey let’s delve into the primary reasons for three periods of twenty minutes each.

Other Useful Hockey Articles

4 Reasons Why Hockey Has 3 Periods

The quality of hockey game experience can significantly improve with game-altering three 20-minute periods. The article deals with the primary reasons that help explain why hockey has three periods.

Optimal Playing Conditions with Ice Resurfacing

The ice resurfacing with the Zamboni machine helps maintain optimal playing conditions. As a result, the ice quality effectively improves due to removing the skate marks, small holes, or piled-up snow. A clean ice surface coupled with additional rest time leads to more exciting and energetic gameplay.

Rest-Up, On-Spot Strategy Formulation, and Players Regrouping

The intermission timeout between 3 periods provides sufficient time for a rest-up break for the players. What’s more? As a hockey coach, I have found it very useful to regroup the players and change the course of the game with on-spot strategies.

Refreshment Breaks for the Audience

Apart from the essential bathroom break during a hockey game, refreshment is also a primary reason for hockey having three periods. Game length being 2.5+ hours creates a need for audience members to restock drinks and food.

Adverts targeting Viewers at Home

In addition to scheduled TV breaks, commercials are carried out for league sponsors to cater to the viewers at home. During the intermission pauses, advertisements are also shown on the scoreboard to target the audience members in the arena.


Here you go, with my five reasons for why hockey has three periods! I found these to be significant for improving the pace of the game towards the end. Players feel as fresh as in the beginning, and the game quality remains consistent throughout.

Cameron Wilson
Cameron Wilson
Cameron is from Ottawa and played college hockey for the Saskatchewan Huskies. He now coaches AA hockey. He is passionate about traveling, trekking, woodwork, and ethnic food. Cameron is also interested in sharing his knowledge about the beautiful game of hockey.