‘He can really do it all’: Iowa Heartlanders defenseman Brendan Less adjusting fast

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.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

Iowa Heartlanders defenseman Brendan Less skates with brains and brawn.

The Ivy League alumnus received 15 penalty minutes while facing the Wichita Thunder on Nov. 12. He recorded a major infraction for fighting Thunder forward Quinn Preston at 2:06 of the first period.

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

“He’s a great player,” Iowa forward Michael Pastujov said. “He can move the puck. He skates with his head up, gets a hold of the blue line. He can really do it all.”

As he grew up in Kinnelon, New Jersey, Less said he wanted to receive a good education and play for a competitive hockey team. Dartmouth College in New Hampshire helped fulfill his goal.

“I knew that if I could use hockey to get into a good school, I would definitely do that,” Less said. “It 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 notched two goals and 14 assists in 86 contests. Less didn’t compete during the 2020-21 season because the Ivy League Council of Presidents decided members couldn’t participate in winter sports competitions because of COVID-19.

Less left Dartmouth with a bachelor’s in economics and earned an Academic All-Ivy distinction in 2021. But he wasn’t done yet with college.

With the desire to transfer to a program that could win an NCAA Championship, Less used his last season of colligate eligibility at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut.

As the right-handed shooter worked toward a master’s in business analytics, the Bobcats went 32-7-3. They fell one game short of the NCAA Frozen Four as Pastujov and the University of Michigan downed the Bobcats, 7-4, in the NCAA Regional Final.

RELATED: Iowa Heartlanders forward Michael Pastujov emerges as club’s points leader.

“I couldn’t have been happier with my experience at Quinnipiac,” Less said. “Just from a hockey standpoint, I felt like I got better as a player.”

After his final college game, Less signed with the ECHL’s Worcester Railers. He competed in his first six professional games with them and recorded one assist to close out the 2021-22 season. Over the offseason, Less signed with the Jacksonville Icemen but was cut before the regular season started.

Less was added to Iowa’s roster Oct. 25 and said he agreed to terms with the Heartlanders because he felt like it was a good fit for the way he plays.

“My first impression was that the guys are all good guys,” Less said. “Everyone likes each other, and I felt welcome from the start. So, I definitely feel comfortable here, and every day has been good. Feeling more and more comfortable and been settling in, so it’s been great.”

Though Less noted the drive into Coralville didn’t include a lot of scenery, he likes the area’s college town feel.

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

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

“He doesn’t try to do too much,” Heartlanders head coach Derek Damon said of Less. “He knows his game. He’s got a good stick. He’s able to defend really well, and he seems to fit in well with Murphy, and Murphy’s a heck of a hockey player. He’s got a lot of experience and having a guy like Less fit right in with him, it’s been a good transition for them.”