By Dan Guttenplan
---- — Salisbury resident Mike Tinkham has been a highly coveted coaching prospect at the youth level in recent weeks.
The former Newburyport High standout and professional hockey player accepted an offer earlier this week to remain in his position as the ‘03 Elite coach for the Greater Boston Vipers of the New England Hockey League. Vipers management sweetened Tinkham’s financial package after he was coveted by the Valley Junior Warriors for a coaching position in their program.
“I decided to go with the program that I’m currently with; they offered me something I couldn’t refuse,” Tinkham said. “I initially accepted a position with the Warriors, but I had to back out. It’s amazing how competitive youth hockey can be. You’d think this is the NHL.”
Tinkham actually has NHL experience as a former selection of the Edmonton Oilers in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft. He played five years professionally from 1990 to 1994. Before that, he scored 164 points at Newburyport High, before transferring to Cushing Academy. Tinkham played college hockey at University of Lowell.
Tinkham has served as the head coach of the Vipers’ ‘03 Elite team this winter, and he currently has the team in first place. He served as an assistant coach with the Vipers last season. In 2010, he coached the Valley Junior Warriors ‘03 team. He has also worked with the Newburyport Youth Hockey program since 2010.
Tinkham’s son Camden plays on the ‘03 team. He also has another son, Lucas, in the Vipers program on the ‘06 team.
“I’m fulfilled right now because my kids are involved,” Tinkham said. “The more I get involved, the more time I put into it. It makes me want to move forward to the collegiate level, or maybe private high school. Right now, my kids are so young, I want to focus on them. I can definitely see down the line maybe doing something with a Hockey East school.”
Although the Vipers ‘06 level does not have an Elite team, Tinkham said he will have an instructional role for his youngest son Lucas’ team as well.
“My 6-year-old is just starting out, and I’m trying to get the kids up and running,” Tinkham said. “It’s helping my resume and making sure the kids get great coaching. With my experience and background, I’ve been able to keep them under my wing. Right now, it’s all youth hockey.”