Why hockey games are played in three periods originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Hockey is a game full of unique traditions and strange rules. From the combat — and lack of punishment — to the chaotic relegation system, it can be an intimidating game for the novice fan.
Take it from someone who’s been there. I attended my first college hockey game and after the end of the second period, I stood up assuming the game was over only to be quickly informed that there were 20 more minutes to play.
What is the purpose of this third period? And why is hockey only in its canon?
Here’s a look at the hockey seasons and the history behind them:
How many seasons are there in hockey?
Unlike most sports that are played in halves and quarters, hockey has chosen to take the road less traveled — three periods of 20 minutes each with a 15-minute break before the second and third periods.
Why does hockey have three seasons?
The three-period system actually begins with these 15-minute breaks.
Before 1910, hockey games were played in two 30-minute halves. But the constant accumulation of snow and ice — decades before a handyman named Frank Zamboni sought to improve the quality of the local rink’s surface — led to rust and could lead to injuries and delays.
Legend has it that Frank and Lester Patrick — hockey legends for their contributions to the ice and the development of the game — spearheaded the three-period turnaround. The brothers apparently believed the change would allow for more frequent rink cleanings, while giving players extra rest and encouraging fans to visit the concession stands.
By the time the NHL launched several years later, the three-season structure was well underway and remained a staple for more than 100 years.
Does women’s hockey have three seasons?
Yes. While some sports like college basketball differ in their timing rules by gender, hockey keeps it consistent in men’s and women’s games. ‘
What are the NHL overtime rules?
While the NHL’s overtime rules vary depending on whether it’s a regular season or playoff game, one thing the league is steadfast on – sudden death.
In the regular season, the NHL plays five minutes, three out of three overtimes. If neither team scores in this five-minute period, the game goes to penalty kicks with each team having three chances to go one-on-one against the goalkeeper. If the score remains unchanged after three penalty rounds, the stakes increase with the team scoring the next goal being declared the winner.
In the playoffs, teams have a full 20-minute overtime to settle things. They continue to play sudden death overtime until one team finds the back of the other.
There is no penalty in the playoffs.