“He Can Really Do Anything”: Iowa Heartlanders Defenseman Brendan Less Adapts Quickly

The rookie Blueliner graduated from Dartmouth College and uses his intelligence and toughness on the ice.

Ayrton Breckenridge

Kalamazoo forward Jake Slaker battles with several Iowa defenders during a hockey game between Iowa and Kalamazoo at Xtream Arena in Coralville on Friday, April 8, 2022. The Heartlanders defeated the Wings 4-2.

Iowa Heartlanders defenseman Brendan Less skates with brains and brawn.

The Ivy League graduate received 15 penalty minutes while playing against the Wichita Thunder on Nov. 12. He recorded a major offense for the fight against Thunder forward Quinn Preston at 2:06 of the first period.

Both players were also disqualified as they received game-misconduct penalties for a secondary altercation.

“He’s a great player,” said Iowa forward Michael Pastujov. “He can move the puck. He is skating with his head held high, holding on to the blue line. He really can do everything.”

Growing up in Kinnelon, New Jersey, Less said he wanted to get a good education and play for a competitive hockey team. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire helped achieve his goal.

“I knew if I could use hockey to get into a good school, I definitely would,” Less said. “That was something that was important to me. It was important to my parents and I couldn’t have been happier to go there.”

With the big green, the 5-foot-11 blueliner recorded two goals and 14 assists in 86 contests. Less did not compete in the 2020-21 season because the Ivy League Presidential Council ruled that members could not compete in winter sports because of COVID-19.

Less left Dartmouth with a Bachelors in Economics and earned an Academic All-Ivy honors in 2021. But he wasn’t out of college yet.

Desiring to transfer to a program that could win an NCAA championship, Less capitalized on his final season of college eligibility at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

As the right-hander was working toward a master’s in business analytics, the Bobcats went 32-7-3. They fell a game behind the NCAA Frozen Four as Pastujov and the University of Michigan defeated the Bobcats 7-4 in the NCAA Regional Finals.

TIED TOGETHER: Iowa Heartlanders forward Michael Pastujov emerges as the club’s league leader.

“I couldn’t have been happier with my experience at Quinnipiac,” said Less. “Only from a hockey perspective did I feel like I had gotten better as a player.”

After his last collegiate game, Less signed with the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. He participated in his first six professional games with them and recorded an assist to close out the 2021-22 season. During the offseason, Less signed with the Jacksonville Icemen but was cut before the regular season began.

Less was added to Iowa’s roster on October 25 and said he agreed to an agreement with the Heartlanders because he felt it suited his style of play.

“My first impression was that the guys are all good guys,” Less said. “Everyone likes everyone and I felt welcome from the start. Well, I definitely feel good here and every day was good. I’m getting more and more comfortable and settled in, so it’s been great.”

Although Less noted that the drive to Coralville didn’t include a lot of scenery, he likes the area’s college-town feel.

“I think it’s good to explore new places, especially when you’re fresh out of college,” Less said. “I’ve never been out here before. It’s definitely a learning experience and I’m definitely glad to be here.”

In his first three games with the Heartlanders, Less was a right fullback paired with Matt Murphy and recorded one assist. Against Wichita, Less remained at right fullback but was leveled with fellow rookie Justin Wells.

“He’s not trying to do too much,” Heartlanders head coach Derek Damon said of Less. “He knows his game. He has a good cane. He’s a really good defender and seems a good fit for Murphy, and Murphy’s a hell of a hockey player. He has a lot of experience and having a guy like Less who is a perfect match for him was a good transition for them.”