I don’t generally follow the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL on Faceoff-Factor simply because I barely have enough time to keep up with the Penguins and NHL the way I would like to.

But, this afternoon, I bring sad news to any hockey enthusiast of Western Pennsylvania.

The following is a press release announcing that the only remaining original ECHL franchise will relocate to South Carolina effective at the end of this season.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – The Johnstown Chiefs, with mixed emotions, announced today that they are seeking permission from the ECHL to relocate to Greenville, South Carolina for the 2010-11 hockey season. The Chiefs have also commenced negotiations with the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville to play in that facility.

The decision to explore relocation opportunities was reached solely because of economic concerns. Entering last Sunday’s home game against Cincinnati, average attendance for the 2009-10 season was below 2,000 fans per game. With the difficulties the organization endured over the 2008-09 season, financial losses reached six-figure levels by the time the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2009. Those losses were sustained with attendance averaging slightly over 2,200.

The Chiefs’ ownership has been, and will continue to be, willing to assist any potential ownership group that would keep professional hockey in Johnstown at the Cambria County War Memorial Arena.

The Chiefs have been privileged to call Johnstown their home since 1988. The support from season ticket holders and the Chiefs Fan Club has been wholeheartedly appreciated. Because of it Johnstown will always have a special place in the history and tradition of minor league hockey in North America.

The Chiefs look forward to completing their current season at the UPMC Health Plan Ice Rink at the Cambria County War Memorial, and are thankful for the support from their fan base.

I grew up a Chiefs fan. They’re how I got into hockey, actually.

When I was just six years old, a neighbor had extra tickets and offered to take me to a game. I’ve been hooked ever since.

It pains me to see the team leave, as I spent a good portion of my youth sitting in section 13 of the War Memorial Arena, where my family held season tickets for six years.

But I also understand the business side of minor league hockey, and to be honest, the Chiefs have been doomed for years.

The team has been average, attendance has been poor, and the arena is terrible.

Fans simply have/ahd no interest in spending $14 per ticket to see a sub-par team take the ice in a sub-par arena. And I can’t blame them.

Even so, losing the Chiefs is yet another blow to a city that just can’t catch a break.