It was a season of firsts for Calgary’s newest sports franchise
By Matt DeMille, Sports Editor
Making it to the championship game of an elite basketball league is no small feat for any organization.
And, it’s even more challenging to do it during a team’s inaugural season.
Yet, that’s what the Calgary Surge did in their first season in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL).
The Surge, which was the latest sports franchise to make Calgary its home, first announced its involvement in the CEBL following the relocation of its former club, the Guelph Nighthawks, in August 2022.
Starting in May 2023, the Calgary Surge would be an active participant in the Canadian league.
Their move to southern Alberta marked the first time a professional basketball team was representing Calgary in nearly 30 years. Prior to the Surge, the Calgary 88’s took to the court from 1988 to 1992, followed by the Calgary Outlaws in 1994.
While excited to play in front of their new city and fanbase, it became clear that the Surge wanted to be more than just a member of the League. Their goals were more ambitious and more centered around winning titles than accepting participation ribbons.
In just their first game of the season, the Surge would record their first win in franchise history. A 74-70 thriller against their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Stingers.
The Surge’s blistering start to their inaugural season kept burning past their opening game, as the club went undefeated through their first three games.
Following the CEBL’s 20-game regular season, the Surge found themselves tied for first in the Western Conference, alongside the Winnipeg Sea Bears. Their 12-8 record was enough to catapult the club from Cowtown to the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2023 CEBL Playoffs.
The Surge wouldn’t be stopped at the semis, however.
Their debut season saw the team punch their ticket to Langley, B.C.; the host city for the CEBL’s Championship Weekend after eliminating the Edmonton Stingers in the semifinals.
In the next stage — the Western Conference Final — the Surge found themselves trailing the host team, the Vancouver Bandits, 75-74, late in the fourth quarter.
With a spot in the CEBL’s Championship Game on the line, Surge guard and Ajax, Ont., local Stefan Smith sunk a three-point shot to give Calgary the lead and, eventually, the win.
Unfortunately, Calgary’s historic run at a CEBL title was ultimately dashed in the championship game. No more magic in hand, the Surge fell to the Eastern Conference’s Scarborough Shooting Stars, 82-70.
While the end result of the Surge’s inaugural season could be chalked up as heartbreaking, it’s still very rare to see a team find the same level of success that the Surge found in 2023. So, by building on the instant progress the team set in their maiden voyage, there is a lot to be excited for in the Surge’s second season in the CEBL.