Frequency of overtime and consecutive games and their impact on injury rate in the National Hockey League (NHL)

Samuel I. Rosenberg, Hayden P. Baker*, Andrew Rizzi, Michael A. Terry, Vehniah K. Tjong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Ice hockey is a high-intensity contact sport that places athletes at an elevated risk for injury relative to other sports. The purpose of the current study was to analyze factors contributing to fatigue and decreased recovery time and their associations with injury incidence among professional athletes in the National Hockey League (NHL). Methods: A retrospective review of all injuries suffered by NHL athletes during six consecutive seasons from 2013 to 2019 was performed. Team schedules were analyzed to assess (1) the number of instances with games on consecutive calendar days, (2) the number of overtime games, and (3) the number of overtime games within three calendar days of a previous overtime game. A Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was calculated from this data to assess the association between these factors and injury rates. Results: In total, 4886 injuries were suffered by NHL players during the period of study, with the 2013–2014 regular season highest injury rate per 1000 athletic exposures (15.8). The lower body was the most frequently injured body area (25.0% of all injuries), followed by injuries to the upper body (23.7%). In an analysis of the number of overtime games and games on consecutive days and their relationships to injury rate, only overtime games within three calendar days and total injuries were found to have a significant association (ρ = 0.19, p = 0.01). Conclusion: The weak positive correlation between the number of overtime games within threedays of a previous overtime game and total injuries in professional ice hockey players suggests that overtime games played within a short period of time place athletes at increased risk for injury. Further studies are necessary to address this on an athlete-by-athlete level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)100-105
Number of pages6
JournalPhysician and Sportsmedicine
Volume49
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • epidemiology
  • fatigue
  • ice hockey
  • injury
  • overtime
  • recovery
  • sports medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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