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Canada's Got Talent - It's playoff time!

It’s playoff time! Not just in the NHL with the Stanley Cup playoffs, but on Canada’s Got Talent.

Nine acts competed on this Tuesday night’s first of two semi-final rounds, and they had a surprise waiting for them at the judge’s desk: sitting in for absent judges Trish Stratus and Kardinal Offishall was none other than Jason Priestley.

Jason Priestley, Howie Mandel and Lilly Singh saw nine acts return to the Fallsview Avon theatre in an attempt to make the finals. The judges selected two worthy contenders, and Canadians from coast-to-coast who will be voting at, will select the other two.

Vancouver dance troupe GRVMNT took the stage first and wowed the crowd all over again. One dancer kept her focus even though her hair extension flew off.

“You guys absolutely crushed that,” said Lilly. The troupe gets extra points for picking a name that can fit on a licence plate.

Next up was Sebastian Savard from Alma, Quebec. He is the guy who balances ladders on his chin while he plays the fiddle. This time he balanced a huge bass violin on his chin and then another at the end of a long, 10-foot pole.

The judges appreciated that he covered all the bases, and praised his violin playing, which included a showy back-of-the-head stunt.

The third contestant is young singer Shea from Vancouver, Howie’s Golden Buzzer girl from the audition round. She was all glammed up this time in a sparkly dress and played guitar and sang while seated in a big golden electric frame. She earned applause from the judges.

Lilly thought her song choice and attire was perfect.

The next contestant is Chucky Mady from Windsor, Ont., who scared the judges into putting him through to the semis.

Lindsay introduced him as “my favourite human can opener.” This time, however, he did not open cans with his teeth, but smashed concrete blocks with his fists. He also brought his dad along to hit him with long sticks.

All three judges gonged the act.

Howie put it best by saying Mady had “talent but no presentation.” He also joked that he was going to call “child protection services” on the dad.

Mady was followed by First Nations hoop dancer Arik Pipestem from Calgary. He is the guy whose act Howie didn’t quite get the first time, but Trish really did – so it was a shame Trish was absent this time.

The good news for Arik was that Howie did get the story and felt that Arik really stepped up. Priestley, who has seen several hoop dancers over the years, also enjoyed the performance.

The Sentimentalists came out next. These two slick sorcerers baffled the judges last time with their mentalist moxie. “They’re witches and they’re wizards,” said Singh.

Shout out to the technical crew for transforming the stage background into a large, golden palace-like hotel. The pair played a numbers game with the judges. Again, they confounded Howie, foretelling not only a number but what his fellow judges were thinking.

Lilly was impressed but not as much as the first time. Howie was just very, very confused.

The male half of the act asked Priestley to think of a five-digit number – then predicted it would be “90210.”.

The next semi-finalist was Kelly Loder from Saint John’s. Last time she accompanied herself on guitar, this time, on piano. The stage lighting was a swirl of twinkling stars and purple lights.

The judges once again embraced her music and her story as a non-binary entertainer. She was thrilled to “perform on a stage in front of Jason Priestley.”

The judges were wowed next by Courtney Gilmour, the Toronto comedian born without forearms who turns her challenges into comedy gold. No one laughed louder than Howie at Courtney’s lines, including where she suggested that for her, opening a can of soup was like cracking into a bank vault.

“You are what we need,” said Howie, who stood and clapped. “Laughter is the best medicine, and you are a pharmacy.”

The final semi-finalists of the night were Shadow Entertainment, the Bollywood dance troupe from Mississauga, Ont. They stepped things up with new outfits and new choreography and wowed the Fallsview crowd. Lilly loved them again. Howie still thought their dancing was a bit loose but nevertheless admits that he has become a fan.

At the end of the night, Courtney Gilmour and GRVMNT were voted through to the finals by the judges. It will be up to Canadians voting at to put two additional acts through to the final round.

NEXT WEEK: Special guest judge Jason Priestley joins the panel again for the second and last semi-final episode, airing May 10 on Citytv and