Ferrari revved up for her first final
STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun
Canada's Gillian Ferrari stands front and center as she jokes around before a team photo following their practice at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006 in Turin. Canada plays Sweden in the gold medal game on Monday. (CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)

TURIN -- The assumption that Canada will win hockey gold today is obvious -- just not to defenceman Gillian Ferrari, who has learned to take nothing for granted.

This Olympic experience simply is too precious for the rookie from Thornhill. This experience is just too new.

For most of this hockey season, the idea of a Ferrari in Italy wasn't something she herself figured on.

"Every time I'd call my mom, she'd say "Are you cut?"

And then the final roster was determined.

"You get invited into this big board room. It was like The Apprentice," Ferrari, 25, said. "All these people, the coaching staff, the hockey staff, sitting behind a desk. I was so nervous. You walk in. I fully expected them to say, 'You're fired.' "

But when coach Melody Davidson offered her congratulations when she had made the team, she wanted to say thank you. Instead, she just burst into tears. "The kind of tears you can't stop," she said. "I couldn't stop crying I was so happy."

EMOTIONAL

The year before she was emotional for another reason. She had been let go.

"It has been so close (for me). Even making it, they could have taken anybody."

But they chose Ferrari, a Canadian of Italian descent. Her father, Rafaello, died when she was just 16. She can't help but think of him now, being here, knowing how proud she is, knowing how proud he would be.

But first, there's gold to win and for Ferrari the excitement of sharing it with some of the legends of women's hockey.

"This is a very close team," she said. "It's exciting, but the sad part is, for some of them tomorrow it's probably going to be the end. You're glad to just be part of it. Some of those girls have been my heroes.

"When I got cut a year ago, I was going to quit. If it wasn't for Vicky Sunohara, I wouldn't have gotten here. She got me through some tough times.

"Now, everyone expects us to win and anything other than gold is unacceptable. We're focused, we're ready. We really haven't had any fun here, it's all been pushing towards this. If we win (against Sweden), then we can go out and have some fun."